East Riding of Yorkshire Council Press Release:
East Riding of Yorkshire Council has unveiled its proposal for the future of public transport services which it supports financially. The proposal, unveiled today (Monday 20 June), follows the most extensive review of bus and passenger services ever carried out in the East Riding. The nine-month survey involved the council working together with town and parish councils to discover what people’s transport needs actually are across the East Riding. The survey also involved the community in shaping the way forward.
Now, subject to approval by the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 28 June, an eight-week public consultation will begin to seek residents’ views on the proposal, starting on Wednesday 29 June and running until Sunday 28 August.
Due to a significant reduction in the funding it receives from the Government, East Riding of Yorkshire Council has had to make major savings to its budget. Since 2010 the council has made savings of £118million across the whole of its budget. It still needs to save a further £60million over the next four years.
But despite the challenging financial times, East Riding of Yorkshire Council believes it is vital that residents have a public transport system that meets their needs and that essential bus services need to be protected.
The council is proposing to reduce the financial support it gives to some bus journeys by £600,000. The vast majority of bus services will be unaffected by the proposal. There are almost six million bus journeys taken by passengers in the East Riding every year. Less than 5% of those will be affected by the proposed changes.
Most of the changes would see some passengers travelling at a different time or on a different bus service. The council will be working closely with bus operators and community transport groups and every effort will be made to provide alternatives if services are reduced.
The council has already helped to generate £1million worth of external funding for the area’s community transport groups and it has pledged to help secure further funding to boost their fleet and the amount of journeys they can offer the public.
Paul Bellotti, head of housing, transportation and public protection services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The council faces significant financial pressures across all services that we can’t ignore. Many other councils have been forced to make similar savings in the cost of bus subsidies, some have cut subsidies all together.
“A great deal of work has gone into finding out what people’s transport needs are, and then using that information to produce a proposal which minimises, as much as possible, the impact on bus users.
“In most cases, where there will be changes, it may mean passengers travelling on a different bus, at a different time, or on a different day, and we will do our best to ensure no community is left without a bus service.
“We are working closely with community transport groups and bus operators to make sure as best we can alternatives will be available for journeys that may be lost.
“Communities, passengers and operators have all been given the chance to get involved and help shape our proposal. “Now we want to hear from the public how the proposed changes might affect them before any decisions are made. “I would urge anyone who cares about public transport to take part in our consultation and let us know their views, so we can secure the best outcome for residents for the future.”
The council currently provides financial support through a public subsidy to 10% of the East Riding’s overall bus network. It gives financial support to 90 bus contracts at a cost of £1.3million. Those contracts include full journeys, parts of journeys and diversions off existing bus routes. Without council funding these are deemed not commercially viable to run.
The proposed changes
In most cases the council’s proposal may only affect bus services at one particular time during its full day’s timetable. Passengers could still catch the same bus, or an alternative one, at other times during that day. For example:
•Service 45 (York-Pocklington-Driffield-Bridlington Monday to Friday service) – The council currently pays for the 14.30 departure from Pocklington to Bridlington, which under the proposal would cease. But passengers could travel instead on the same 12.30 or 16.30 journeys from Pocklington to Bridlington operated commercially by EYMS.
•Service 75 (Withernsea-Patrington-Burstwick-Hull Sunday service) – The council currently pays for four Sunday journeys to divert to the village of Burstwick. These will stop under the proposal. But passengers could still catch any of the other 24 other Service 75 journeys which run through Burstwick on Sundays, which are operated commercially by EYMS.
•Service 80 (Hull-Hedon-Hull Monday to Friday service) – The council pays for this bus to visit the Westfield Estate, in Hedon, at 9.24 and 11.43 each morning. This would stop under the proposal. However, the nearest bus stop is a short walk away on New Road, the main road through Hedon.
There may be an opportunity for bus operators to take on some of the services affected under the proposal, and run them on a commercial basis, but the council understands the financial pressures facing the bus industry.
To help create an up-to-date picture of residents’ public transport needs in all towns and villages across the East Riding, the council launched a major survey in September 2015, working together with town and parish councils, ward members and key local groups.
All 168 town and parish councils were invited to take part in the process. Parish representatives were given the task of carrying out surveys in their local communities to find out if the current services provided met people’s needs, if there were any needs not currently being met, and how best to use the current services. The needs of elderly and disabled people were especially researched and were taken into consideration during the survey and the proposal. Council staff also met with protected groups.
A total of 3,398 responses were collected from members of the public. They have all been analysed and those results form the basis of the new bus consultation. Information on any unmet transport needs identified through the survey have been passed on to local bus operators. Town and parish councils will continue to promote the use of buses in their local communities and to seek out sources of possible funding for pilot bus schemes.
‘Dial-a-ride’ community transport
Community transport in the East Riding is a huge success, with 100% coverage across the area. These are ‘dial-a-ride’ bus services run by local volunteers which residents can ring to book a seat. They provide door-to-door journeys for residents who may find it difficult to use conventional buses or where no conventional bus services exist.
Three local community transport groups – HART (Holderness Area Rural Transport), Goole GOfar and Beverley Lift – together carry 121,000 passengers per year. Other groups include Bridlington Dial-A-Ride and the Nafferton Millennium Community Minibus.
Paul Bellotti said: “These groups will play a greater role in meeting the transport needs of communities, especially those with smaller passenger numbers. “These services are often wrongly seen as being solely for the elderly and disabled, when in fact they are potentially open to everyone.”
The council also runs Medibus services in the Beverley, Bridlington, Driffield, Goole, Hornsea, Pocklington and Withernsea areas, transporting people to local hospitals, GP surgeries, clinics and dentists. Passengers can also use the service to visit friends and relatives in hospital.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council is leading force in the Government’s Total Transport initiative. The aim of the initiative is to get public sector bodies working together to share vehicles and journeys to ensure residents have greater access to transport for health services, shopping, education and employment. The council is talking with local organisations, including health trusts, to try to pool more transport resources.
One good example involves a bus allocated to take passengers to an adult day centre which, rather than laying empty in the depot, now provides a shopping journey during the day time which would not otherwise exist. The council’s proposal outlines hopes to take advantage of more opportunities like this, particularly with patient transport.
The Total Transport scheme also aims to secure alternative sources of funding to allow bus operators and community transport groups offer more local services.
Journey planning help provided
If the council’s proposals are given the go-ahead following the consultation, anyone who has trouble accessing public transport to travel to their job will be offered personal journey-planning assistance from the council.
The journey-planning service will also be available to people who rely on public transport because of a disability.
Have your say
As part of the eight-week consultation residents will be encouraged to have their say by completing a questionnaire which will be available from Wednesday 29 June. The questionnaire, together with the full proposal, will be available on the council’s website www.eastriding.gov.uk and also via email and post on request.
A series of 11 drop-in sessions will also be held across the East Riding through July and August to give residents the chance to meet transport officers to discuss the proposals.
At the end of the consultation process all questionnaires and views will be taken into consideration before any decision is made.