A PRESSURE group calling for improved bus services in York has called a committee set up between the council and York’s local bus operators a ‘useful talking shop’ - but said progress has not been made on key issues.

Members of York Bus Forum (YBF) said that The York Enhanced Partnership for Buses Forum, the body overseeing the £17.36 million awarded since April 2022 by the government in the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), has not tackled the subject of bus coverage, frequency of services and their reliability.

As reported in The Press, recommendations for fewer buses and operating hours on some routes operating in the city are to be presented to the council’s Executive this evening (February 20).

Read more:

Council Executive to make decisions on York bus network

City of York Council consults on bus service review

Green Party calls on York council to speed up transport plan

Council bosses in the administration will also be asked at the meeting to accept £1.153 million of new BSIP funding on top of money already allocated.

YBF said the council will need to show evidence to the Department for Transport of progress in its BSIP spending plans and said council-commissioned consultancy studies and public consultations have yet to explain how services will improve.

A spokesperson for YBF said: “Unfortunately, to date the only outcome has been to increase the amounts of subsidies being paid to bus operators, to have a modest roll out of the new electronic bus stop information boards and introduce a £1 fare for young travellers.”

Transport consultancy documents produced for tonight’s meeting say around £2 million a year is paid in subsidy to bus operators.

The council has also said aspects of BSIP funding to date included other ticket improvements and pointed to lobbying for wider improvements, including at the city’s park and ride sites.

YBF said as part of a wider Local Transport Strategy the council has committed to an increase in bus passenger numbers of 50 per cent by 2030 from baseline figures of 2019.

The group is now calling for a ‘proper public consultation’ which would include increasing bus priority space in the city centre, direct bus access to the railway station from all parts of the city, a sustainable fare and subsidy structure that encourages bus travel instead of private car use in York.

The council’s Local Transport Strategy, which intended to set out ten years of plans for York’s transport network and infrastructure, passed through its Executive late last year and included a public consultation on services subsidised by the council.

Council documents said public consultation would inform a new Local Transport Strategy and a full-council approved strategy would underpin negotiations with the incoming York and North Yorkshire Mayor.

A spokesperson for the YBF said: “City of York Council having produced not one, but three recent studies are facing the requirement to produce further evidence to the Department for Transport of progress in the spending of the now £18.45 million awarded to it in the BSIP.

“This new evidence must include details of how future money will be spent.

“York will also need to produce a long-term vision for bus strategy in the city, something we have been calling for during several years of discussion.”

Doreen Magill, Chair of York Bus Forum said: “We need a better approach to the current issues.

“BSIP has presented us with a unique opportunity to improve our bus network, but it simply isn’t happening!”