We understand that a Council report on the future of bus services in the City is to be considered on Monday at a “behind closed doors” meeting. This seems to be an unusual approach as the Councillor, with responsibility for transport issues in the City, is also holding a public “decision session” on the same day.
There are few topics which engage public interest more than bus services. Passengers are likely to be angry if they think that decisions are being taken behind their backs.
The report – titled a “bus improvement study” in the Council’s forward plan – has already been delayed for 3 months. It was to have been published in the summer.
Labour has budgeted over £200,000 for studies which they hope could lead to the introduction of a “statutory bus contract” arrangement in the City. Effectively this would mean the Council setting standards (frequencies, routes, fare levels etc) for bus routes in the City with operators tendering to provide the service.
The need for (and practicality of) such an arrangement has been called into question given that – unlike other parts of the country – bus use in the City is stable. The Councils weak financial position means that it is unlikely to be able to subsidise any new arrangements.
Regrettably the delay in publishing the report has also been used as an excuse by the Authority to avoid publishing the data that it holds on bus service reliability. These at least should become public on Monday.
The Council is still refusing to say how many of the “All York” tickets, that they launched in the summer, have been sold. There is a growing concern that, despite £20,000 of taxpayers money being used to subsidise the launch of the ticket, sales have been very poor.