COUNCIL chiefs are urging residents to use their local bus service or face the prospect of losing it altogether - after falling passenger numbers left the long-term future of one section of its route in jeopardy.

The Press reported on Monday that York’s biggest bus operator, First, has cut the frequency of services on a busy route in a bid to make them more reliable.

The company confirmed there are now six fewer services a day on the number 12 route from Monks Cross to Foxwood Lane, but stressed it had not cut the number of buses, with four still operating on the route.

Earlier this year the bus operator had announced its intention to withdraw the service that it provides along that section of the route as it is no longer commercially viable.

However, City of York Council has now revealed that it has stepped in to provide the funding required to continue operating the service in its entirety, but only until January 31, 2020.

The council said this will allow time for a tendering process to be carried out in a bid to find the most cost-effective, long-term solution. A decision about the future of the service will be made once that process is complete.

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, executive member for transport, said: “It’s positive that the council has agreed to provide the funding needed to ensure that bus service 12 can continue to operate between Alness Drive and Foxwood Lane in the short-term but, as we work to identify a longer-term solution, local people must make full use of the service.”

In Monday's story resident Mike Longhurst claimed that the "current service is far worse than the old one, with buses running at least 10 minutes late most of this week”.

He said that before the changes, the service 12 ran a half-hourly service for most of the day with a slightly extended gap between services at peak times.

He added that First York had said it was committed to providing safe, punctual and reliable bus travel.

But questioned when the company "intended to achieve this promise".

A spokesman for First said the frequency had reduced from every 30 minutes to every 40 minutes to “help provide a more reliable service”.