THE bill to the taxpayer of York's controversial ftr bus has risen again, by another £79,000.

The extra cash - relating to additional staff fees which were not included in original estimates - takes the total cost of infrastructure improvements to £1,638,000.

Labour's transport spokeswoman, Tracey Simpson-Laing, today hit out at the spiralling costs, and demanded to know whether any further spending was still to come to light, claiming: "Three months ago, I was told by a finance officer at a meeting that there would be no further expenditure."

She also claimed the ftr was absorbing cash at the expense of other bus routes, saying only seven new bus shelters were installed across the city in 2006/07, with three of them part-funded by ward committees or parish councils.

"I am sure that many bus users can think of where bus shelters are needed, or timetable cases so that bus information can be provided at stops, yet all this has been put aside just for one route," she said.

But Coun Ann Reid, the Liberal Democrat executive member with responsibility for the scheme, said: "There's no extra work that's been carried out. These extra costs are just paying for the work that's been done.

"A lot of the improvements that have been done on this route have helped all the route users. For example, the traffic lights at Acomb which were on the wish list and we've been able to provide because of this project.

"A lot of the improvements to bus stops on the route serve more than one service. There are more advantages to both bus users and road users in the city as a result of the ftr project."

The infrastructure improvements to ftr include upgrades to 75 bus stops, improvements to eight junctions, resurfacing three carriageways - Chaloner's Road, Cornlands Road and York Road in Acomb - and re-profiling 40 speed cushions.

Tony Clarke, capital programme manager city strategy, said in a report to members of the council's city strategy and advisory panel, which met last night: "The cost of the infrastructure improvements, including the resurfacing of a number of roads on the route, were higher than originally anticipated."

He said that after the ftr was launched in May last year, significant work remained, including amendments to traffic calming, adjustments to kerb alignments, provision of off-street parking and completion of resurfacing.

"The total cost of the ftr introduction, including over £500,000 of resurfacing, was £1,638,000 over the two years," he said.

At last night's meeting, Mr Clarke said there could still be extra costs on top of the £79,000 already spent, but they would be well under £20,000.

The Press reported last December how the ftr costs had risen by £250,000, to more than £1.5 million.