Fears are growing that cuts are coming to York’s bus services.
The York Bus Forum says that they are increasingly concerned that planned cuts to the network that were to be implemented this month may have merely been delayed until next March.
“We understand that the No 11 service to Bishopthorpe and No 12 to Woodthorpe and Foxwood would have been affected,” the forum says.
“The YBF are calling on City of York Council and First York to implement urgent measures to encourage more use of buses in the city to prevent the risk of the loss of vital services.”
A petition to save the Bishopthorpe bus service, launched in August, gained more than 1,500 signatures.
The problem is that commuter travel has not recovered since the pandemic lockdowns were lifted.
Although some routes in the city are subsidised via City of York Council most are run on a purely commercial basis and can only be maintained if they run profitably.
It comes after the government confirmed a funding award of over £17 million for
York as part of the city’s Bus Service Improvement Plan.
That will go towards improving the network, infrastructure and ticketing options.
Council leader Keith Aspden says they were aware of “ongoing concerns that local operators have expressed over the lack of sustainable long terms funding deals that would support current services”.
“Bus driver shortages, low passenger numbers and impending funding cliff edges is leaving services in a constant state of retreat, in York and across the region.”
In a report to full council this week, Cllr Aspden says: “I know that intensive work is currently taking place by officers and providers to encourage and support residents to return to buses and retain as many services as possible.
“Whilst the government’s decision to extend crucial emergency support until next March is welcome news, we must all be aware that this merely delays the cliff edge for another six months.”
He has written to the Transport Secretary asking for sustainable, long-term funding for bus services.
Deputy council leader and Green Party leader Andy D’Agorne will tell that meeting: “I am very much aware of the concerns for the future of bus services in the city, especially seeing the scale of cuts threatened in other parts of the country.
“Despite changes in government I hope that the recent last minute additional six months of funding to operators is a sign that the government is still committed to its Better Bus strategy.
“We also have the prospects of promotional £2 single fares from Jan 2023 but will need to work with operators and the DfT to ensure that York residents get the maximum
long term benefits from such innovation.”
York Bus Forum chair Doreen Magill said: “York should be well placed to have our public transport system offer a real alternative to car use; it is vital that we move forward with improvements instead of being faced with reductions.”