YORK’S biggest bus operator has come under fire after scrapping a free bus service between the University of York ’s old and new campuses.

Students’ union president Kallum Taylor branded the decision by First a “double slap in the face” for students.

He claimed that as well as scrapping the service to Heslington East without any consultation with the union or university, First was also putting spare resources into the route between Heslington West – the old campus – and the city centre.

He claimed this could take custom away from a rival service, UniBus, and erode the wider extra services and deals it offered to students which included, buses during moving-in days and a “Clubbers’ Bus” which got students back to campus safely after nights out without causing noise nuisance to residents en route. He said he would encourage all students to support UniBus wherever possible and avoid using First buses.

But a spokesman for First hit back, saying that unlike another bus operator running to the university, First did not receive a financial subsidy from the university to provide free travel for students to Heslington East.

“Also we do not have access to the private road that runs into the Heslington East campus, so currently have to run on Field Lane which at times is very congested, which impacts on our reliability,” he said.

“Therefore, as the only operator running a fully commercial service, we have to make commercially-based decisions on how we can provide a bus service to this area.

"However we are happy to engage with students, who are extremely important to us as our customers on service 4, and we are happy to meet with the Students’ Union on their behalf.”

He said the number 4 service would now run up to the science park and then down on to Field Lane before returning to Heslington Hall.

“We have also introduced a new service 14 that serves the university sports village. More details are on our website.”