Passengers angry at cuts to ‘lifeline’ town bus service

Bus users in the Northfield area of Driffield could be left stranded when a daily service is cut to just two days per week.

The route for the 530 bus begins and ends on George Street in Driffield, servicing Wansford Road, The Mount and Woodland Rise, as well as Skerne Road, Auchinleck Close, Mill Falls, Little Driffield and York Road.

The 530 currently runs Monday to Friday between 9:25am and 2:52pm.

Later this month however, that service will be cut to just two days a week after operator BusKing removed itself from its contract a year early, stating business reasons.

Trevor Brigham, who lives on Woodland Rise, regularly boards the 530 bus. The 84-year-old takes the trip into town two or three times a week and said that the same people regularly join him for the journey.

Trevor Brigham catches the 530 bus from Woodland Rise each week.

Trevor told the Wolds Weekly: “I moved to Driffield 20 years ago because of this bus route, as well as the train station.

“I catch the bus two or three times a week as it’s much easier than finding somewhere to park, but the distance is too far for me to walk with shopping.

“There are so many people who catch the 530, some every day, most are elderly, and it is their only method of transport.

“There has been little to no notice about this decision, I only found out when I boarded the bus last Tuesday (4th October) and there was a notice on the bus.

“On a Tuesday, I ride into town, buy a copy of the Wolds Weekly from Sokells, do some shopping and visit Cooplands’ Secret Garden, but if there’s no bus that day, I might not be able to do that.

“It’s a shame as you get to know other passengers, whilst the driver knows us all by name too.”

The Wolds Weekly has been told that an unchanged timetable will now only operate on Tuesday and Thursday.

The service will be provided by North Holderness Community Transport (HART) and will come into effect from Tuesday 25th October.

Another regular user of the 530 is Lynn Farr, who lives on Northfield Road.

She called the bus a ‘lifeline’ and said many passengers would be willing to pay to keep the service.

Lynn said: “I’ve lived in Driffield for five years after I became ill and it was easier to get to doctors’ appointments and picking up prescriptions, rather than living in the middle of nowhere.

“Neither my husband or I can drive anymore, so we rely on it and even arrange appointments in town around the timetable, as well as using the library and doing our shopping.

“We use it two or three times a week, including a Monday, which apparently isn’t going to run anymore.
“I only found out when people on the bus were talking about it last week.

“The majority of passengers are elderly, so don’t pay since they have a bus pass, however, I know that most would be happy to pay if it means keeping it running for longer.

“It really is a lifeline for us.”

Kieran O’Brian, from BusKing’s operations team based in Driffield, told the Wolds Weekly: “BusKing, part of the Acklams Coaches group, has taken the decision to terminate running the 530 service in Driffield.
“The contract has been handed back to East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC).

“The decision made has been purely from a business point of view.”

The funding of the bus is split between Driffield Town Council (DTC) and East Riding of Yorkshire Council, with the former allocating £15,000 of funding as part of its annual budget.

After BusKing announced it was pulling the plug, the contract was put to tender, with an operator found, which was willing to run the service three days a week for the same price.

However, when the operator pulled out, another was found, with HART coming forward, but only able to operate over two days.

Driffield town clerk Claire Binnington said that Driffield Town Council had previously looked at improving the service before the recent cuts.

“Driffield Town Council budgeted £15,000 per annum to help fund the Driffield town bus as part of the three-year contract with Acklams Coaches,” she said.

“The town council is willing to honour this agreement until the conclusion of that contract, which finishes at the end of next year.

“The cost of running the bus, including fuel and paying drivers, means it is not viable for Acklams anymore, so much so that HART can only operate two days a week at the same cost.

“The town council had looked at extending the services due to the considerable growth of Driffield in recent years, but now we are not sure what the future holds for the town bus.

“We hope to continue some form of provision for as long as possible and I would like to assure everyone that we will be doing our darndest to ensure this moving forward.”

Cllr Claire Holmes, ERYC portfolio holder for planning, infrastructure and housing, said: “Both East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Driffield Town Council have had to make this difficult decision to reduce the number of days the service runs to keep rising costs within our budgets.

“Thankfully we can keep it running two days a week for passengers, including on market day.”

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