York Green Party

Greens call for a 'step change' in bus services

20 March 2013

Leader of York Greens, Councillor Andy D'Agorne attended York's Quality Bus Partnership meeting to present a case for a 'step change' improvement in evening bus services in the city, as part of a fightback against out of town developments and to put York on a par with competitor tourist cities such as Edinburgh and Bath.

The Quality Bus Partnership is a forum of representatives of the city's bus operators and council transport planners, which is supposed to drive improvement in bus services. Cllr D'Agorne presented a proposal in which bus operators partners with city-centre entertainment venues to promote the city's evening economy. An autumn launch of such an initiative could harness the  Christmas late night shopping boost to the demand for evening travel.

"Residents in Fulford have a worse evening service since the Arriva 415 service dropped from hourly to only two evening buses, neither of which now serve the rail station. In contrast, 'competitor' tourist cities such as Edinburgh have cheaper, more frequent services all year round, with many evening services running half hourly until 11.30pm, and then hourly 'night buses' serving key destinations" said Cllr D'Agorne. "If we aspire to be an international, world heritage city we must have a plan to achieve a better public transport service that doesn't close down at 7pm."

The Greens have pressed since 2006 for a 'quality contract' in York to allow the council to take control over bus services and this had been supported by the Labour administration but work on this has now been halted as a budget saving. Cllr D'Agorne says that several bus partnerships around the country have been actively considering quality contracts, or statutory partnership deals with the bus companies operating in the area. Lothian Buses in Edinburgh is a private company but the local authority is still a major shareholder.

At the meeting, Cllr D'Agorne was told that it is timely to raise the issue because of the 'network review' recommended by an independent 'Bus improvement study' recently completed for City of York Council by consultants. In order to take the issue of better evening bus services forward Cllr D'Agorne called on the members of the Quality Bus Partnership to seek a meeting with representatives of theatres, city centre cinemas, nightclubs and other venues to formulate a promotional effort encouraging their customers to use existing or new evening services.

"These businesses have season ticket holders and members addresses and emails and have the potential to boost public transport use while the bus companies can in turn promote their shows. Why is this not happening already?" said Cllr D'Agorne. He stressed the urgency of action to support the city centre evening economy prior to the new developments at Monks Cross opening in 2014. "If we dont want our city centre to die, initiatives like discounts on evening bus services, and promotions of city centre shows are essential." he added.

Cllr D'Agorne also pointed to the economic and social inclusion benefits of better transport, allowing both the young and elderly to safely enjoy a social life without the need to drive or pay for expensive evening taxis out of limited income.

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