YUSU condemn decision to scrap free Hes East bus link

YUSU has condemned the decision and absence of consultation by First Buses to scrap the free service operating between Heslington East and West

Georgi Mabee

Georgi Mabee

YUSU have urged students to avoid using First Buses after the company announced the free section of the number 4 service, linking the Heslington East and West campuses, is to be scrapped.

Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, has branded the decision as “a double slap in the face for York students”.

The free service will be wound up before the start of the coming term.

Taylor has expressed outrage at the decision and the lack of consultation from First with both the University and YUSU on the change.

The decision to scrap the free service comes at a time when the link between campuses is becoming increasingly important with the new sports centre now open and Langwith College about to move to Heslington East. However, a new service, 14, will run to the sports village from Acomb Green Lane.

Additionally Taylor has stated his concern that First may try to oust UniBus, YUSU’s preferred operator.

YUSU believe First will now put their spare resources into the route between Heslington West and the city which could “take away custom and erode the wider services and deals it offers to students”.

UniBus currently operate the 44 and UB.1 routes which offer free travel between the campuses, as well as providing the Clubbers’ Bus service.

Taylor commented on the benefits that YUSU believe UniBus bring to students in comparison to First: “UniBus work closely with both the University and Students’ Union to provide some much needed services, including our free campus hopper, buses during moving-in days and our Clubbers’ Bus which gets students back to campus safely after nights out without causing noise nuisance to residents en route.”

He added: “This is why I’m happy to encourage all our students to support UniBus wherever possible.”

YUSU have stated their belief that First are concerned only with profit and not about the needs of students: “First Buses, on the other hand, are obviously only interesting in profiting from our students whilst trying to kill off the company that actively cares for our students, without giving anything in return.”

Taylor has strongly condemned First’s actions and is encouraging students to boycott the operator’s services: “I’ll be encouraging as many students as possible to avoid First and support UniBus, bearing in mind the other services at risk, even if that means waiting a couple of minutes rather than getting the next bus that arrives.”

Despite criticism First have defended their decision pointing out that while UniBus receive a financial subsidy they do not.

A First spokesman said: “Unlike any other bus operator that runs to the University, First does not receive a financial subsidy from the University to provide free travel for students within the University campus 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.”

They added: “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.”

Despite not consulting previously YUSU or the University on the decision, First state they are now willing to discuss their services with students.

“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 Student Union on their behalf.”


  1. Am I right to understand that Taylor is suggesting a boycott before meeting with First?

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  2. Yeah but First sucks and their drivers are awful. It’s a win for all students with bad footing on buses.

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  3. 23 Sep ’12 at 2:04 pm

    Chandler Bing

    ‘Am I right to understand that Taylor is suggesting a boycott before meeting with First?’

    Not saying Taylor is right, but First have made these decisions with no consultations with any of the student bodies whatsoever.

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  4. Oh, but look, by condemning them and encouraging people to boycott them First are now saying they will meet with the SU about it. Which means it might not happen or there might be a change. Looks like not letting people get away with things actually works!

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  5. Please note that even if First may not receive subsidy from the university, I seem to remember much of the debate about the old tram like ftr buses was due to the council subsidising them with millions…

    And they declined to extend the bus to hes east in the first place, it was only the deal between unibus and the uni that forced them to do it..

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  6. “YUSU have stated their belief that First are concerned only with profit and not about the needs of students”

    Er, yes, they are a private company. This is what they are supposed to do, to care for profit and their shareholders. Why should they care about the needs of students? Why do people always feel entitled?

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  7. @Alex

    You are laughable.

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  8. So let me get this right. Taylor is objecting because First, who say they do not get a subsidy and have different access rights to Heslington East, are proposing to withdraw a free service. This seems like a perfectly reasonable commercial decision they are free to take. Whether it is a good commercial decision remains to be seen. Why won’t the University give First access to the bus road, presumably because they have given exclusive access to Unibus. If you give one company a subsidy and preferred access you cannot automatically expect free trips from its competitor!

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  9. First using the same road as Unibus would still be an effective reduction in service. Under the current arrangement, the 4 serves the top of campus and the 44 serves the bottom of campus. With the opening of new Langwith, First would have seen increased use of their service out of the sheer convenience of where their stop is. Reliability is a bit shakey sometimes, but particularly for students with mobility problems, once you’ve made it to the stop at the top of campus, it’s not worth hopping stops – in the time it takes to get to a 44, that can have moved off and the 4 you were waiting for has been and gone without you.

    Other than guaranteed low-floor buses (which no service will now provide on HesEast until November), the distinct route was the only thing that guaranteed First any custom for the 4 in the first place.

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  10. 25 Sep ’12 at 8:39 pm

    Chandler Bing

    In the same way that First must look after their own commercial interests, it’s ridiculous to suggest students should not look after their own. In this case it is to support whoever is keeping the important Hes East/Hes West link open.

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  11. Looking after your own means working to find a good solution, not whining because someone is not granting you a free service. Your logic seems to be that if you want/need something, it is fair game to try to get it even without earning it or paying for it – so your logic legitimises theft, exploitation etc. If I have missed a step in your logic, please point it out.

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  12. Is it actually out of the question for the university to buy and run its own bus between the campuses?

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  13. @Tsk

    First aren’t meekly withdrawing an untenable service, the actual length of the new route through the science park is only negligibly smaller than the old route, it’s the fact that the new route actively targets the viability of the 44 route.
    If Unibus can’t remain solvent then we lose the extra services they provide, you know, the ones that the YUSU president has an obligation to defend? I’m pretty sure someone said all this to you when you tried to derail the York Vision thread.

    P.S. The Tea Party called, they wanted to know when you were going to get the copy for their pamphlets through to first draft?

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  14. Taylor really is a bit of a loose canon isn’t he…

    When do YUSU get a new Chief Exec in?

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  15. @ Samuel

    Tea Party pamphlets? I am not sure I underst… ah, you mean to make fun of the fact that I have liberal ideals. I get it – you’re funny.

    If Unibus cannot remain solvent, they are bad at running their business. It’s a shame, but it happens. The president should try to come up with solutions instead of attacking a commercial decision.

    All I am saying is that believing that students have the RIGHT to get a free service because they ‘need it’ is appalling, entitled and pathetic.

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