840 Coastliner: Withdrawal of bus from Leeds and York would 'take Whitby back to the Middle Ages'

Campaigners have called on councillors to prevent the 840 Coastliner bus between Whitby and Leeds from being scrapped following a public petition.

At a meeting of the Scarborough and Whitby Area Constituency Committee councillors backed calls to maintain the Whitby to Leeds bus route.

However, North Yorkshire County Council has not received any guarantee that the service will not be scrapped and said it would look at “all the options” if the operator discontinued the route later this year.

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It was annouced earlier this year that the 840’s tender contract would lapse in April, and the section between Malton and Whitby could be axed if another operator could not be found to run it.

A Coastliner bus approaches GoathlandA Coastliner bus approaches Goathland
A Coastliner bus approaches Goathland

It has since been given a guarantee of service until the autumn, when another review will take place, and since then passenger numbers have risen by 75 per cent thanks to the government’s £2 journeys initiative.

Councillors said the 840 service which is run by Transdev and goes to Leeds via York should be “maintained and supported by any means”.

A petition titled “Save the 840 Bus to Whitby from Leeds” gathered 621 signatures from locals and was discussed at the meeting on Friday, March 24.

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A member of the public involved in organising the petition spoke at the meeting, stating: “My presentation is to do with making the 840 bus a permanent fixture.

“A taxi ride from Whitby to Malton is £50 which is far beyond most people’s budgets and is prohibitive.

“How do people travel to hospital appointments if the 840 bus is discontinued?”

The speaker highlighted the importance of being able to access healthcare and further “mainline” transport options in York by means of the bus and said that loss of the service “would take the inhabitants of Whitby back to the middle ages”.

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She added “The people of Whitby feel it is very important their bus is kept running up until and after October”

In a report prepared for the committee meeting, Andrew Clarke, North Yorkshire County Council’s public and community transport manager said: “Transdev advised the Council in December that, due to rising costs and fewer passengers travelling since the pandemic, Service 840 between Malton & Whitby would be withdrawn from April 2023.

“This is an unprecedented situation affecting the whole country with many bus routes nationally seeing a reduction in service or being at risk of withdrawal. Since then officers at North Yorkshire County Council have been working with the bus company to look at solutions to keep the service running.”

However, the committee was told that the introduction of the £2 fare cap across local bus routes in England has resulted in increased passenger numbers on the 840 service.

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The current service is set to continue throughout the summer with minor changes to running times “to assist with reliability”.

Mr Clarke said: “The council will be working with Transdev and other bus operators over coming months to promote bus services and encourage more people to choose the bus as this is the best way to ensure that routes remain in place for the long term.”

Whitby Station has no direct rail links to York and Leeds, meaning train passengers have to travel to and from Middlesbrough.

This week Yorkshire Post reporter Ruby Kitchen spent a day riding the Coastliner to Whitby and meeting passengers taking advantage of the £2 fares.