ELECTRIC buses, more rural services and possibly subsidised fares are some of the Isle of Wight Council's aims as it strengthens its ties with Southern Vectis.

As part of the government's Bus Back Better strategy, to dramatically improve bus services in England outside of London and to encourage passengers back to buses, the Isle of Wight Council has committed to forming an Enhanced Partnership (EP) in order to receive government funding.

The agreement to form the EP was made at Wednesday's IW Council cabinet meeting.

After the meeting, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, Cllr Phil Jordan, said the partnership needed to be entered into.

He said: "It will be great for us. Our officers are already in talks with Southern Vectis about their requirements which will develop over the coming weeks and months.

"We want to see things like electric buses and real simple things like electronic timetables, real-time traffic bus information, more rural buses, more regular buses, standard fares and let's see how the funding bids go but maybe subsidised bus fares."

It is a requirement of the strategy to commit to entering an EP with local bus operators by the end of June and formalise the partnership by April 2022.

If the council did not agree to the partnership, the authority and Southern Vectis would not, under the strategy's terms and conditions, receive any more Covid-19 Bus Services Support Grant.

The next step is to draw up a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

Under the Bus Service Act 2017, there is £3 billion of funding available for the local transport authorities to achieve their aims in the BSIP but it has to be bid for.

Authorities have received £100,000 to create their BSIP, which has to be published by October, with the Isle of Wight Council commissioning Hampshire Council Council's Commercial Services and its consultants to deliver the Island's plan.

The BSIP will cover areas like fare prices, which must be lower and simpler, modern buses and decarbonisation and more demand-responsive services.