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Taxi driver 'forced out of Kirk Michael by DOI minibuses'

'ConnectVILLAGES' not intended to compete says department

A taxi driver says he's been forced out of business in the north of the Island by government's 'dial-a-ride' minibuses.

Bus Vannin rolled out the 'connectVILLAGES and PORTS' services last December, to replace some timetabled buses and provide links to Ronaldsway airport.

Barry Murphy says due to this 'government competition', it's no longer financially viable for him to provide his private hire pick-ups in Kirk Michael.

The taxi driver is now going to work in the Douglas area, but fears in future the 'entire trade will be under threat'.

According to the Department of Infrastructure, connectVILLAGES is not intended to compete with private taxi companies, as they offer 'an individual service with no limitations on times, route availability or geographical boundaries'.

In a statement, the DOI makes clear that all feedback will be taken into account as part of an 'ongoing review' of the service.

Mr Murphy told Local Democracy Reporter Ewan Gawne he feels unfairly 'pushed out' of Kirk Michael by government:

ConnectVillages is part of an integrated transport strategy designed by the Department of Infrastructure which is supposed to save up to £1 million.

According to the department, many scheduled buses run 'well below capacity' on rural routes, and the minibuses system is a 'cost-effective, customer-focused alternative'.

Initially, the 'demand responsive' service was introduced to connect Andreas, Bride and Maughold villages with Ramsey, and in April this was extended to include Jurby.

Users must book ahead to access the service, with flexible pick up points and times.

Residents in Jurby have expressed unhappiness with the service, which they claim is often unreliable, and has isolated the community, particularly the elderly and teenagers.

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