More than 6,000 emails from students in York have been sent in a campaign against changes to First Bus services in the city.

The #FixFirst campaign was launched by the University of York's student union in response to changes made to bus services - including fare increases - over the summer.

The union also claims it was "excluded from the consultation process" over the changes.

However, First Bus said it had discussed the changes with the student union on "several occasions", while single fare increases remained below the overall rate of inflation and service changes had been made to improve journey times and provide more capacity.

Since the petition launched, 6,330 "letters" have been sent on the petition. Student Union officers have since been sharing students' experiences in threads on X (formerly Twitter).

The student union campaign claims:

  • Fares were increased at a rate of 22-26 per cent - while inflation stood at 6.8 per cent.
  • Changes to the bus services have led to inconsistencies when trying to access free services between campuses, making it difficult to attend classes on time. 
  • Students make up the majority of service users on university buses and "should be at the forefront of decisions about the bus services".

Kayleigh Ingham, commercial director of First North & West Yorkshire, said: "We respect the right of the students to protest but the claims being made about consultation on fares and routes are incorrect.

"Discussions are always held with the university management when considering changes to the network and pricing and these took place earlier this year.

"We have also met with students’ union representatives on several occasions in recent weeks to explain the fares structure and did not get any criticism.

"Single fares prices are below the overall impact of inflation since 2019 and the average cost per trip of making multiple journeys remains low.

"The recent route changes to the free shuttle services we operate on the campus were made to improve journey times and provide more capacity.

"Further meetings with the university management will be taking place to discuss how we can continue to improve services and support students in the best way we can."

Hannah Nimmo, York University Student Union community and wellbeing officer, said: "Our perspective at the student union is that no student should have barriers in accessing their education.

"We opposed the changes (to fares) at first and were excluded from the consultation process.

"Students should be consulted on their own bus service and they weren't."

Ms Nimmo claimed that students with access requirements intentionally chose accommodation in the areas covered by university bus routes, which she said have since become unreliable.

She said: "The response to this letter campaign is one of the biggest in the student union's history."

Both the University and First Bus are responsible for handling the student transport service.

A University of York spokesperson said: “We really value First Bus services, but appreciate that alterations to the service have concerned some of our students.

"As the only provider of bus transport to and across campus, we recognise the importance of First’s provision and support, and we continue to meet with both First and student representatives to try to find a way forward to identify ways we can improve travel around the campus and connections into the city.”