TALKS are being held about how to replace York’s controversial ftr buses, after the city’s council leader confirmed they are to be axed.

The Labour group which controls City of York Council vowed, in the run-up to May’s local elections, that if it won power it would end an agreement with First York to operate the distinctive purple bendy buses.

The party said it was now seeking alternatives to the ftr as part of a proposed wider package of public transport improvements, which will be discussed at a meeting next week.

The buses have been criticised in some quarters since their arrival more than five years ago, due to their size and claims that they cause problems for other motorists and damage the city’s roads.

Labour pledged in its election manifesto to work towards scrapping the services, describing them as “a costly disaster” which had absorbed £1.5 million of public money.

Dave Merrett, the council’s cabinet member for city strategy said: “In May, we decided not to renew the agreement between First and the council for the ftr.

“Discussions have been taking place about how to provide an acceptable replacement for users of the No. 4 services to the University of York and Acomb, and this is being discussed along with other possible public transport improvements.”

Next week, Coun Dave Merrett, will also be asked to approve a study into ways of improving to the quality, reliability and punctuality of York’s bus network.

Proposals include a city-wide survey to ask residents what they want from bus services, holding further surveys on buses and at key bus stops, consulting with parish councils, ward committees, residents’ associations and the 11 companies which operate bus services around York. The consultation will also include organisations such as Visit York, York Youth Council and York Independent Living Network.

Coun Merrett said: “The council is committed to working with bus passengers, bus operators and key local stakeholders to develop and deliver a bus network which better meets the aspirations and needs of existing and potential new bus passengers,”

First York was unavailable for comment on the ftr issue.

A farewell to ftrs

YOU either loved them or you hated them. One thing you couldn’t do with York’s purple bendy buses was ignore them.

Now, following an election pledge, the city’s ruling Labour group has confirmed that the buses are to go. An agreement with bus company First to run them expires in June, and talks are being held about how they can be replaced.

There may not be that many people who will be sad to see the back of the purple buses.

But the council must not rush into ditching them without giving First time to ensure an adequate replacement is available.