This Wednesday, the YUSU Sabbatical team launched a new campaign to challenge First York buses after changes to timetables and fares disrupted student and staff travel in York.
The campaign #fixfirst, was launched at midday on Wednesday by Community & Wellbeing Officer Hannah Nimmo and YUSU President Pierrick Rogers in an Instagram post and the Sabbs In Short newsletter. Comprising of both an online letter and social media campaigns, the petition aims to correct bus routes by reinstating the free campus 66/67 buses, reduce bus prices and ensure student concerns are heard.
The petition has been launched on Action Network where members of the university community can send letters to key decision makers. Campaigners can send an automated or personalised letter expressing their concerns and calling for the University to resassess changes and for First Bus to engage in dialogue. These letters will be sent to the First Bus Commercial Director Kayleigh Ingham, Development Manager Any Fozzard and Managing Director Andrew Cullen, and the University’s Transport Team and Assistant Director of Campus Services Kris Fieldhouse.
The petition was signed by more than 1000 people in the first hour, with over 2700 emails being sent (at time of publishing). When asked about the end goal of the project YUSU lead Hannah Nimmo said “5000 (emails) would be a dream to be honest. That would really drive the message home.”
This campaign comes after months of division between First Bus York and the student community. Earlier this year, The University of York re-signed their contract with the private bus company, against the recommendation of the Students’ Union. First York proceeded to raise the cost of bus tickets in the summer, increasing tickets by 22-26%, and removed free elements of the student 66/67 buses, majorly altering bus routes at the start of the Autumn semester. The introduction of free C1 and C2 buses, as replacement for the now paid 66/67 buses, has reduced the transportation options for students living off campus or needing transport to town or to the train station. This has resulted in long wait times, inconsistent and unreliable buses, and dangerously large crowds at the University bus stops.
YUSU formally opposed these changes in March 2023 but were met with hostility, and they claim to have been subsequently excluded from discussions as major changes were implemented. Now, YUSU are hoping to utilise the collective voices of University staff and students to fight back against what they consider to be an unreliable, inaccessible and poorly communicated series of changes.
The campaign announcement further outlined the need for, and subsequent hopes of, the campaign:
“The University of York community deserves to have a bus service provision that they are able to directly input to, to ensure that it works for their best interests. “
“This was all done despite formal Students’ Union opposition, and without any student consultation, meaning commercial interest were considered over and above the student voice.”
“The service for students is still poor and only works to serve commercial interests, and not the fundamental needs of the student body.”
“Enough Is Enough”