Andy D’Agorne steps in to save local buses

Andy D'Agorne Standing in front of a bus

Key bus routes that serve local communities in York have received additional support to ensure the services continue in the longer term, thanks to City of York Council.

Services 13 (Saturday), the 412 and 12 which serve areas including Acomb, Long Marston, Tockwith, parts of Copmanthorpe, Huntington, Heworth and Haxby, will now continue past March 2023.

This is thanks to an open tender procurement exercise that has been carried out by the council, in order to find longer-term replacement operators for the three services.

The new contract will run from 1 April 2023 and will secure the services until 31 March 2025.   It’s also supported by  the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), with the option to extend for up to an additional three years.

But this comes with a stark warning that if the government does not provide longer term funding support, or bus usage doesn’t increase – further services may be impacted. The BSIP funding will only provide short term relief to the immediate pressure facing the bus network. 

The council has been successful in securing an additional £1 million of funding to support bus services through part of its wider Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). This funding initially enabled the 12, 13 and 412 services to be safeguarded in the short term [until March 2023], as well as the recommissioning of the Poppleton BAR Park and Ride Site, reopening on 1 April 2023.

The council strategy to safeguard the local bus network is to encourage users to return to using buses, and the key to ensure this happens is to maintain the existing services.

Councillor Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Transport, at City of York Council, said: “Over the years, York has built up significant levels of bus use and we are committed to doing what we can to protect our local bus services, which provide a lifeline and connection for so many in York and neighbouring rural areas.

“A combination of the ending of government COVID-19 funding support, alongside increasing national driver shortages and rising fuel costs has created a crisis for the bus industry.

“The council cannot fix the crisis, but we’ll be working hard to safeguard the bus network and help it weather the current storm. Keeping the current bus network even with a reduced frequency provides a better basis to build back in the future.

“Current action we can take is short term and limited by the funding, serving only as a time limited safeguard for existing local bus routes. Routes affected to-date have all been run commercially by bus operators and not financially supported by the council. We are in a position where if people don’t use the bus services, they could lose them.

“Through the Enhanced Bus Partnership we’ll be working closely with bus operators on how the BSIP funding should be invested to support the bus network in the short and long term. The Partnership will also be crucial in proactively promoting public transport use across the city to help cut congestion and provide access to jobs and services.”

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