Bus companies face ‘most challenging time’ in years

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PEOPLE living in rural areas are facing more infrequent bus services and higher fares as operators confront a double blow of rising costs and falling income.

According to an East Riding Council report, it is the “most challenging time to operate buses for over a generation”.

While all the towns and villages in the East Riding which have had a bus service continue to do so, services are expected to become less frequent.

It says: “Fuel costs have continued to rise, insurance costs have increased, income from the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) will reduce by 20 per cent in April and reimbursement from concessionary travel is static or reducing.

“Bus operators are therefore having to rationalise the least profitable parts of their operations which inevitably means that rural areas are beginning to lose some services.”

Bus companies are facing some of the highest fuel prices ever, as well as a 58 per cent increase in fuel duty from April.

They are also having to ensure all buses are low floor by 2017.

The report warns that changes in the BSOG “has moved the profit/loss tipping point”, adding: “To ensure sustainability it is expected that a number of services will lose some frequency to sustain the underlying network connectivity.”

Peter Shipp, chairman of bus operator EYMS Group, which runs dozens of buses into Hull and York, serving Pocklington, Market Weighton and surrounding villages, said: “We are having to review everything in the light of the cuts and fares will rise almost certainly in the Spring. Tight isn’t the word for it - it is almost getting impossible.”