Concern as villages lose bus service

The Coastliner bus service has been cut from Goathland, Sleights and Ruswarp
The Coastliner bus service has been cut from Goathland, Sleights and Ruswarp

Villages along the A169 have been axed from the Coastliner bus route to allow the operators to charge pensioners to use the service.

However Nigel Eggleton, of Transdev, said the move is necessary as North Yorkshire County Council has slashed the contribution used to reimburse the bus company by 40 per cent.

Mr Eggleton said: “NYCC currently provide reimbursement for the use of senior citizens for concessionary travel passes. But they are about to make fairly substantial reductions in the amount they contribute of about 40 per cent.

“We know most local authorities are in a difficult financial position but we were surprised at the level of cuts.”

To counter this reduction, from 26 May, concessionary bus pass holders will be asked to contribute a fee to their journey, in the region of £3, between 10am and 1pm. “We frequently hear from many senior citizens that they may be prepared to pay a small fare, rather than lose their service,” said Mr Eggleton.

By law bus operators are not allowed to charge elderly and disabled bus pass holders a fare on routes classed as ‘local’.

However, they can charge on ‘express’ routes, which must have at least 15 miles between stops. Mr Eggleton added: “Hence we said, our buses head towards Whitby from Leeds, York or Malton non-stop, that will allow us to charge a fee which will go some way towards filling that gap.”

This will mean that Goathland, Sleights and Ruswarp will no longer be served by the Coastliner bus.

“If you are wanting to operate non-stop a distance of 15 miles, you look for where the smallest number of people will be affected,” explained Mr Eggleton. “We carry very few passengers from intermediate places, so that’s where we can make a change and inconvenience the fewest people.”

However, a spokesperson for NYCC disputed Mr Eggleton’s claims relating to the extent of the cuts. She said: “In order to be in line with the rest of the country, we are introducing the Department for Transport formula to reimburse operators for concessionary fares and this will mean a lower payment to some operators. Our estimate of the reduction in payment to Coastliner is nearer 20 per cent.”