YORK’S transport bosses are to look at creating a city-centre bus station and changing car-parking charges.
Bus companies will also be given new targets on ticketing, vehicle standards, pollution and passenger information, under proposals aimed at improving public transport.
Coun Dave Merrett, City of York Council’s cabinet member for transport issues, yesterday approved various steps aimed at improving bus services.
But he came under fire for making the decision in a private, unannounced meeting.
The council secured £2.9 million from the Department for Transport’s Better Bus Area Fund in March, topped up with £1.6 million from the council and bus operator contributions, giving a total of about £6 million.
The council said yesterday a new “policy statement” would be drawn up to set the benchmark for standards.
It would also commit the council to improving services and facilities, including considering developing of a bus station, improving road layouts and “ensuring car parking is priced to ensure the costs of bus and car are competitive”.
Coun Merrett said the council aimed to significantly increase passenger numbers by 2015.
He made the decisions yesterday morning in private, which angered opposition parties.
Tory group leader Ian Gillies said the issue was on the council’s forward plan but without a specific date.
He said: “We have had no input other than what is on the forward plan, and no opportunity to ask questions. It is throwing democracy out of the window.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Carol Runciman said: “Yet again Labour has taken a decision in private and away from proper scrutiny by residents or opposition councillors.
“The first we knew about this decision, which involves more than £4.5 million of taxpayers’ money, was when a press release was sent out by the council’s growing public relations machine.”
She said her party could not know whether the money was well spent or whether the proposals were sound.
A council spokeswoman said: "The council advertised the details of the meeting which took place yesterday on its forward plan 28 days in advance [which it is required to do when meetings are held in private].
"This decision was not about the bus strategy or the changes to the network, but rather the way in which relationships can be built on with bus operators in the city and the way in which we can work together. This included confidential operational information and so a decision was taken to hold the meeting in private."