“87% of York bus services running on time” says Council

Unidentified object flies over Guildhall

Flying pig

Relative too many other areas, York’s bus services have achieved higher passenger numbers (per head of population)  for almost 15 years.

Although down from the high of 12 million passengers carried in 2006, stage carriage services still managed to attract 11 million users last year. On top of this, the expansion in Park and Ride continues with 4.5 million using the enlarged network last year.

At a time when the annual DpT statistics see bus services losing passengers in some other Cities, this is a cause for some relief in York and the Council might claim justification in celebrating its relative success through a media release (see below right)

It is being disingenuous in suggesting that passengers can expect to wait less than a minute for bus services to arrive or that timetabled services are 87% reliable. That simply isn’t the case at the times of the day, and seasons of the year, when people travel most.

Media release by York Council 9th Oct 2015

Media release by York Council 9th Oct 2015

The claims are based on DpT published statistics which can be found by clicking here for waiting times and here for passenger numbers

The reliability figures are the result of a one off check undertaken by the local authority in the autumn of each year (usually the least busy time on the highways network).

Sadly with the York Councils supposedly independent scrutiny committee system bogged down with trivia, it seems unlikely that anomalies like these will ever be challenged. Most scrutiny committee chairs seem to back away for even asking for regular quality of service reports. That leaves consumers in the dark – none more so than on bus service reliability.

The sooner that the figures collected each day by the “Your Next Bus” computer systems are routinely published, the sooner we are likely to get a more candid analysis of both the Councils performance and that of York’s bus operators.

Bus service performance stats provided by York Council and Department of Transport

Bus service performance stats provided by York Council and Department of Transport

Bus use in York down by 10% last year

Bus use click to enlarge

Bus use click to enlarge

Over a million fewer journeys were made by bus last year in York.

This is equivalent to a 10% reduction in “stage carriage” service use. The figures are described as “provisional”.

The Council has yet to respond fully to a Freedom of Information request on bus usage in the City.

Requests for the City to publish bus reliability information are also mired in a legal wrangle.

Although Park and Ride use increased from 4.1 to 4.3 million trips, it did not offset what is the largest single year decline ever recorded in public transport use in the City.

The start of the decline can be traced back to 2011 when the Council confronted the major provider of services in the City (First) in an attempt to get the futuristic ftr taken off York’s roads.

The ftr had been popular with passengers but the dispute led to a period of conflict between the Labour run Council and bus operators.

Recent attempts to “hype” a fares reduction through the media proved to be ill judged as many users found that their journey was actually costing more.

The Council announced at its last meeting that it is scrapping the Quality Bus Partnership which has been a liaison point between bus operators, passenger representatives and the Council.

It will be replaced by another”behind closed doors” discussion group

NB. Following on from the bad news about reduced footfall in the City, the Council report has also revealed a drop in car park use from 1.62 to 1.52 million.

They are forecasting a net shortfall of £250k (3.5%) from parking income following data from the first six months.

The decline in use followed a decision by the new Labour Council to implement a 36% increase in parking charges.