THE annual cost of a privilege bus seats has more than doubled for some Isle of Wight parents.

Privilege seats are for children who attend a school outside their catchment area but do not travel on commercial bus routes. More than 500 children use this service.

The system for applying for bus seats was opened last week. However, the price of tickets has risen by 37 per cent on the previous year, and now cost £130 a term.

Parents are also no longer able to purchase just a morning or an afternoon seat.

One parent, from Ventnor, said the cost of sending her two children to Medina College, Newport, by bus had risen from £285 to £780 a year.

Julie Hutchison, of Trinity Road, said she had hoped to buy afternoon tickets but, as this option was no longer available, she had to pay for a full term ticket.

She said: “I chose Medina because, despite it being outside the catchment area, the art department is amazing and it suited my children a lot better.”

She said there was no explanation in the letter to parents as to why the price had gone up.

Claire Flowers, of Hawthorn Meadows, East Cowes, said she had also gone from paying £45 a term to facing an annual bill of £780 for both their children to attend Carisbrooke College.

She said: “It’s actually cheaper for us to drive them both to school, so we will be adding to the congestion around the high school.

“The tickets now cost the same as a Southern Vectis Freedom Pass, which covers more days, but a public bus wouldn’t actually take her direct to the school.”

Another Ryde parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said it felt like the council was ‘punishing parents’ who chose to send their children to a school outside their catchment area.

Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Paul Brading, said the council had cut four routes from the service this year, after looking at the contract with Southern Vectis.

Cllr Brading said: “Parents who send their children to a school outside of the catchment area should have to pay. The council don’t have to provide the service.

“It’s an expensive contract with Southern Vectis.”

Cllr Brading said the council was not profiting from the price increase.

He added: “I do accept it’s expensive, but I do feel the price increase is justified.”