The 44 bus, run by Transdev, is set to end its five year relationship with the University of York on 4 December by discontinuing its Unibus service from the city to campus.
Starting from next year, the spring term will see the 66 bus become the sole provider of transport from the two main campus sites, York City Centre and Railway Station.
The Unibus service was specifically aimed at students and worked closely with both the Graduate Students’ Association and the student union. A survey conducted by the University to students and staff showed that 92 per cent of their services scored good or excellent compared to a fitting score of 66 per cent for the 66.
However, this was not reflected in the University’s decision to award the transport contract to First York. Attempts were made by Transdev to continue without the university’s financial support but it is now no longer economically viable to do so.
The service will still run between Acomb and the City as part of their contract with the City of York Council but devoid of the Unibus name and following a new timetable.
Some have raises questions as to whether the cost of tickets to and from the city and campus will increase on the 66 route. With a lack of competition, First York are very much in a position where students are subservient to such a rise. As such consultations between YUSU and First York hope to ensure that travel remains at a reasonable price and covers the full area previously catered to by the 44 bus.
Concerns have also recently been raised in regards to First York’s capability to cope with an increase in their services. The company has been struggling to recruit drivers and consequently some services have been cancelled due to staff availability.
Marc Bichtemann, managing director at First York has stated that he, “would like to assure students and staff at the University that we are working to recruit more drivers to join our team, and we apologise for the inconvenience caused by the cancellations of some services.”
When asked for comment regarding the changing bus situation: “YUSU works closely with the University and First to ensure that the best possible service is provided for students. On Friday 28 October, YUSU facilitated a meeting between students and First in order for students to voice their concerns about ongoing issues and allow First time to respond to them. YUSU and GSA hold monthly meetings with key stakeholders in order to hold First to account and ensure they hear feedback from students first hand, we will continue to use these avenues to ensure quality of service. We understand that First are currently in the process of recruiting new drivers and we look forward to working with them to ensure the service on First buses is great.”