First cancels No. 56 Bus

Image credit: First Group
Image credit: First Group

The bus company First has announced the cancellation of its No. 56 Bus, an hourly service that began running for students in September.

First‘s decision was influenced by the unpopularity of the bus service. First announced on its website that “The number of people using this service has been extremely low, with most customers instead choosing the frequent 66 service.”

The 56 service, beginning on the 21st of September this year, was a new route for university students, advertised as the only bus passing York St. John University and King’s Manor on its way between the Heslington campus and the railway station. It had been funded by a private accommodation company directed toward student tenants, Student Castle, as a route between their accommodation and the campus, but Student Castle has agreed to send its funding elsewhere.

Ben Leatham, the President of the University of York Student Union (YUSU), voiced his “huge disappointment” via social media at the bus company’s decision, which was “taken without consultation with student representatives at YUSU and the GSA” and contradicted First‘s promises to improve services for students.

Kevin “Vinnie” Claxton, Mature Student Officer for YUSU, added in the ‘comments’ section below the President’s post:

This is incredibly disappointing and frustrating. Students and staff at Kings Manor have fought long and hard for years to get a service running like this and now they cancel it after just one term without any consultation with students? The low uptake (although I’d like to see figures supporting this) is likely due to two things: 1) as you said, First have done almost nothing to promote this service, and 2) the service runs on the hour. Since pretty much all lectures etc start on the hour this timetable doesn’t really help! That First have chosen to cancel this service is a huge blow to those at Kings Manor who thought they’d finally achieved a breakthrough (and have been promoting it to prospective students at open days etc). I agree that students should be offered partial refunds on annual passes – many were purchased under the promise of an improved 66 and a kings manor service and First have now failed to deliver on both counts!

The student union will meet with First, along with representatives of the Graduate Students’ Association and the University of York, on Monday. Mr. Leatham will request that First continues the 56 bus service.

Other services, including the No. 66 Bus, continue to run.

If you would like to express your thoughts on the matter, Ben Leatham would like to hear them – he encourages you to contact him at b.leatham@yusu.org. For queries to First, please send an email to yourbussupport@firstgroup.com.

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Jack Harvey

Alumni & Public Relations Officer at The Yorker
Comment and Politics Editor 2015/2016, Editor 2016/2017, Alumni & Public Relations Officer 2017/2018 and acting, 2018/2019. Waiting to graduate with MA in Philosophy at University of York in 2019.