YORK’S flagship ftr bus service will face being scrapped if Labour seizes power at next year’s council elections.

The group has vowed to seek ways of replacing the distinctive buses should it win control of City of York Council, describing the scheme as a “costly disaster”.

The purple buses, operated by First York, have been criticised in some quarters since being launched five years ago because of their size and claims the fleet has caused damage to the city’s roads.

In an early policy salvo ahead of next May’s elections, Labour leader Coun James Alexander pledged his party would not want to see the council’s current partnership agreement with First over the ftr, which runs between the University of York and Acomb, being renewed after it expires next June.

He says Labour would instead focus on introducing new vehicles which he believes would be more suitable for York’s road network.

Coun Alexander said: “The ftr has been an unmitigated, costly disaster. Not only is it too big for York, but it has been costly to taxpayers due to the road changes required to service it. More than £1.5 million has been spent on it and this could have been better spent on genuine investment in public transport.”

But Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Galloway, the council’s executive member for city strategy, said: “The ftr is run on a commercial basis and Coun Alexander should know the council does not have the powers to scrap the service.

“The five-year agreement [with First] was reached to ensure the investment made at bus stops and in improving infrastructure on the route would be worthwhile.

“Unfortunately, Coun Alexander makes the usual mistake of claiming work undertaken on resurfacing carriageways on the route was solely down to the ftr.

“In reality, this work was due to be done anyway and was advanced by a few months only to avoid unnecessary disruption to road users. First are reviewing the use of the ftr in the city and are well aware of the results of the recent survey of users, which produced high satisfaction levels.”