Arriva night buses ‘virtually deserted’

The Arriva 100 trial bus service for the Whitby area is making slow progress on the road, with passenger numbers dwindling since its introduction in April.

Earlier this year, the Whitby Gazette reported the evening bus service was put into action due to popular demand from residents to connect the Sleights, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay route.

But with taxi drivers claiming they are able to offer a cheaper, quicker and more reliable service, the buses on the route are practically deserted.

Low passenger numbers have caused Arriva to drop the supplementary fare of £2 down to a fee of £1 in an attempt to bring people back on to the buses.

This surcharge is on top of the normal bus fare and is compulsory for passengers but voluntary for concessions.

The service replaced the old 93, 94 and 95 services from Monday to Saturday after 7pm.

John Fozzard, marketing manager for Arriva North East, said: “We have dropped the price to try to encourage more people to use the service.

“£1 extra for a bus journey in this current environment is an exceptionally good rate.

“Concessionary passes can be used all night – there is not a 7pm cut-off for the service 100.

“The supplementary fare still stands and we would encourage as many people as possible to use the service and pay the fare to ensure that the bus service can continue to run.”

The service 100 runs every 90 minutes between Whitby and Sleights via Ruswarp and also every 90 minutes between Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay via Eskdale, Hawsker, Stainsacre and Fylingthorpe.

Mark Ellis, commercial manager at Arriva North East, said: “Service 100 was introduced due to requests from the residents and the local council.

“Since its introduction the service has been poorly used and we would encourage as many people to use this service during this trial year.

“The reduction in the fare will hopefully assist this.”

The buses may be struggling because due to the additional charge taxi services feel they can offer a competitve rate, especially for groups of people.

Barry Johnson of Streamline Taxis in Whitby, said: “Even with the £1 drop the bus service is still dearer than taxis and about 90% of the town are not aware there is a surcharge on the buses.

“I collected two people from Robin Hood’s Bay and they had paid £4.80 each way on the bus but were able to get a taxi back for only £8.

“As far as we’re concerned Arriva have lived on subsidies, they get 30% discount on fuel from the Government.

“We always out-compete buses, we give a better service, we deliver people door to door and they are dodging that fact.”

He added: “Taxi drivers are incensed about it, we’re a local business and the money we make goes back into our local economy.”

A previous regular user of the 94 night bus service, who wanted to remain nameless, said: “The last bus is at 10.35pm which is a bit too early, it’s all about convenience really and it’s all a little too late.

“People have made alternative arrangements and have been walking into town instead.

“A taxi is certainly better value if there is more than one of you sharing a lift home and it is definitely more convenient.”