A 12-month extension is recommended for the trial of an on-demand bus service which has been piloted in parts of North Yorkshire.
General Manager of Business and Environmental Services, Karl Battersby, and senior advisers will be asked to approve an extension of the YorBus program pilot at their meeting on Friday, June 24.
The recommendation to extend the pilot until June 30, 2023 is to allow options for broader deployment to be further explored.
The YorBus driver was created a year ago to access an alternative mode of transport. The service operates two 14-seater wheelchair accessible buses using the County Council’s fleet vehicles and staff. It was launched in Ripon, Masham, Bedale and surrounding villages in July 2021 and operates from 6:55 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Clients book on demand through a dedicated YorBus app or through the council’s customer service center.
The pilot exceeded its targets in areas such as the number of trips, punctuality and customer satisfaction. Customer feedback has been positive and the high level of customer satisfaction is reflected in the number of regular passengers using the service.
Between July 1, 2021 and May 9 this year, YorBus transported over 650 people on over 10,000 trips. Many are regular travelers and some have completed over 100 journeys on the service. People use YorBus to get to work, to essential services and for social trips. In a recent customer survey, the most commonly cited mode of transportation that would have been used if YorBus was not available was a car.
Executive Member for Highways and Transport, Cllr Keane Duncan, said: “YorBus has proven to be a major success in its first year, with hundreds of passengers choosing to use our fast and low cost to get to their destinations.
“With the service from Ripon, Masham and Bedale running well, we are looking at extending it for at least another year – hopefully with more villages included, new booking options and longer opening hours.
“YorBus is exactly the kind of innovative transport we want to promote in the future, and we don’t want to stop there. We want to introduce the service to other rural areas of the county as part of our efforts to provide even more residents with value-for-money public transportation.
During the pilot extension period, we would consider developing a telephone contact option for customers, reviewing how to roll out return booking and undertaking a pricing review, including encouraging options such as reservations of group.
We would also consider introducing limited pre-booking, extending hours of operation, and seeking other sources of funding for deployment to other parts of the county.
In addition to helping people with trips such as commuting and medical appointments, YorBus allowed tourists to visit attractions in the pilot area.
Grantley Hall is a luxury hotel and wellness retreat that welcomes thousands of visitors each year. It employs more than 300 people, many of whom live on site.
Human Resources Manager Louise Helliwell said: “The launch of YorBus has been a huge benefit for the staff living locally, as many don’t have cars. Prior to YorBus there was no form of public transport to the hall so this made the area more accessible for them to explore the beautiful sights of North Yorkshire on their days off.
“Many local employees have also used YorBus. Again, there are a number of my colleagues, particularly apprentices, who do not have a car.
“Grantley Hall was built to provide employment opportunities for locals. It is therefore important to have reliable transport links to and from the hall. It is excellent value for money and a good alternative for those who are environmentally conscious.