York buses: “Heartbreaking” cuts to bus services will save £200,000

“Heartbreaking” cuts to bus services will save the City of York Council £200,000.

The City of York Council’s executive approved cuts to numerous bus services, with reduced lengths and frequency for some routes, which could be enacted as early as June 2, 2024.

The decision has been made due to the council no longer being able to subsidise routes that are economically unviable, but socially necessary.

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Council officers recommended, for example, the Monday to Friday bus service serving the Flaxman Croft Loop in Copmanthorpe be withdrawn, resulting in an additional walking distance to the nearest bus service for some people of up to 650m.

Pete Kilbane. Pic: City of York Council.Pete Kilbane. Pic: City of York Council.
Pete Kilbane. Pic: City of York Council.

Flick Williams, a disability rights campaigner, said: “It removes access to bus services entirely for those residents who are older or mobility impaired and for whom walking half a mile uphill is simply not possible.”

Explaining the recommendations, Michael Howard, head of highways and transport, said: “The issue is that the operator [of the 13 bus service] wishes to reduce from a four to three bus operation and whilst we have asked him to continue to operate that service, he has declined to do so.

“We have therefore been speaking to the operators of First Bus [about] what parts of that service they could pick up.”

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He added: “Without the support of the operator we currently have there, it is very difficult for us as officers to support and we understand the concerns of residents in those areas.”

Coun Pete Kilbane, executive member for transport, said: “We want to operate a service for the residents of York, both in the city and villages.

“We want to try and operate that service, but we want to do so with companies that want to make a business profit.”

He added: “Until we get to the point where buses are once again properly funded as a public service, we are constantly going to be trying to square this circle.

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“Hopefully we’re going to have an incoming Labour government that we will lobby hard to treat buses as a service.”

Coun Kilbane said: “It’s with great regret that we are losing the Flaxman Court loop and the Haxby loop” but said the “sums don’t add up” to continue spending money to subsidise them.

He added: “It’s just not economical” and “that is heartbreaking and I wish we didn’t have to do it, but we do.”

The full list of service cuts can be seen from page 10 of the report.

Coun Kilbane wants to reinstate the bus services when it is economically possible.

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