A TRIAL bus service between Whitby, Sleights and Robin Hood’s Bay which was due to run until April could be off the road by Christmas.
After government cuts led to the withdrawal of many local bus services, bus operator Arriva agreed to put on the 100 service on a trial basis after councillors said how important it was to the outlying villages.
It is funded by a controversial £25,000 cash donation from Arriva to the people of Whitby and Whitby Town Council set up a working party to decide what to do with the money.
The money was expected to sustain the bus service until April if bus pass holders agreed to pay a voluntary £1 donation for the journeys they made on the bus.
But now the bus company is saying that low passenger numbers and a ruling from the Department for Transport prohibiting the voluntary payment have thrown the future of the service into doubt.
Mark Ellis, commercial manager, said: “Their decision does weaken the service even further as the revenue will fall as a result.
“We have been told by local councillors and residents this service is vital for the local community, however, at the moment the number of people using the service doesn’t back this up as the usage is very low, with only around 30 customers per evening using the service.
“For the service to cover its costs we need to carry more than double that figure and it’s now looking highly likely that this service will be withdrawn around Christmas time as that’s when the £25,000 commitment is now likely to run out.”
Mr Ellis added the project was being looked at by agencies around the country because of its experimental nature and is telling the people of Whitby, Ruswarp, Sleights, Robin Hood’s Bay and Fylingthorpe to “use it or lose it”.
Coun Joe Plant who was involved with the working party maintained that using the £25,000 this way wasn’t a waste of money.
He said: “It hasn’t been a waste of money because it has kept the service going and people have benefited from it.
“At the end of the day other routes make a profit and they should compensate for this.
“Whether it is 30, 50, 70 or 90 people we still should run it for these people – it is important that we get things for all society but once this goes we will never get it back.”