Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Free Buses in North Yorkshire?

The Green Party in Richmond is calling on local and national government to invest in a massive upgrade to bus services in North Yorkshire. We made the call in a leaflet issued to thousands of households around Richmondshire.

To pay for bus services, the Green Party is calling on the Highways Agency and NYCC to scrap the A1 upgrade from Leeming Bar to Barton.

Scheduled for 2012, this A1 upgrade is likely to be an early casualty of spending cuts by the next government. If it ever does get built, the price will have increased so much that it will no longer be viable. Just look at the A684 Bedale/Aiskew/Leeming Bar Bypass scheme. Originally estimated to cost £25 million, it is now £39 million and rising.

Far better to spend the money on getting people out of their cars so they don’t need a new road. Current bus services are inadequate and a little tinkering around the edges will not make a bit of difference. Here in Richmondshire, we need a reliable, well-publicised service between all our villages and Richmond, Northallerton and Darlington. Tory Councillors on North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) are allowing rural bus services to wither on the vine, often not even insisting on bus timetables being displayed at bus stops, let alone promoting bus use for locals and tourists.

A comprehensive bus service free to all users could be offered for at least six months, to get people used to the idea of taking the bus, not the car. This would reduce significantly CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, cut traffic congestion and reduce the cost of commuting. It would also stop the disgrace of NYCC charging 6th Formers for bus travel. It is a win/ win situation for everyone.

A free bus service saves massive amounts in administration costs and with sponsorship by local business, could be viable, with reasonable Council support, in the long term. The trouble is the local Tory and Independent (i.e. former Tory) councillors around here lack the vision to see the bigger picture. To get that, you need to vote Green.

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