Image Credit: KK70088
In English law, 'the man on the Clapham omnibus' is the exemplar figure of intelligence and rationality (or in modern parlance, 'facts and logic'.) Their University of York cousin, however, 'the student on the Walmgate omnibus', seems to be a damned fool. They may have their heart in the right place in terms of the importance of public transport for a multitude of reasons, but too frequently their complaints about the buses of York are simply ridiculous.
What better way to demonstrate the in(s)anity of the complaints than that paragon of journalistic formats, the listicle?
Complaint #1) "I only want to buy a single ticket, #Bustice now!" This argument is perhaps the most infuriating of those I've heard. Students and staff at the University of York get substantially cheaper fares than most of the rest of York. Yes, a single ticket costs £2 on the bus from campus to the city centre, but you can do the same trip on the same bus for £1 with the application of the slightest bit of common sense. The Yorkey Card. While it may have a terrible name, is available for £10 or £20 for 10 single trips or 20 single trips respectively. The trips are valid for three years. Even better, it is valid on all buses in York run by First. You could buy it online or on their app, and then top it up. It is an exceptionally good offer for students. Complaints about two fare structures are also absurd. First are financially incentivising use of the Yorkey card because it makes for a more efficient service as drivers and passengers don't have to fiddle with change. When the Oyster contactless card system was introduced in London, Transport for London did much the same thing to encourage a transition from cash to Oyster, and now, all London buses are cash free. This is beneficial for operators and consumers. By 2010, boarding times on London's red double-decker buses had increased from 10 passengers per minute to more than 40 passengers per minute. A 2011 study for the European Commission on Public Transport Smartcards found that "faster boarding times allows buses to run more reliably, faster and frequently, reducing operating costs, fuel and CO2", which is no bad thing. In other words: buy a Yorkey card at the beginning of your degree, get on the bus, top it up as need be, and stop complaining. Also, 'Bustice' is a term second only to 'Brexit' in its political pointlessness. What do we want? Soft Bustice? Hard Bustice? EFTA Bustice?
Complaint #2) "The bus waits for ages at stops when no-one is there" As hard as it may be to believe, York's bus drivers are not engaging in some sort of metatheatrical performance of Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the stops when they do this, nor do they wait to get a sadistic kick out of personally torturing you. They're doing this in order to ensure that they follow their schedule and leave particular 'timing point' stops at the right time.
Complaint #3) "Why isn't there a bus that goes from my house via my lecture theatre to my favourite club and back?" On the whole, York's buses are really rather good. In January 2019, 100 per cent of routes in the York area were rated good (average schedule deviation less than four minutes, 10 per cent) or outstanding (average schedule deviation less than two minutes, 90 per cent) in terms of their monthly average punctuality. The 2018 Transport Focus survey had an 89 per cent satisfaction rate with the overall journey in York. There are, of course, legitimate concerns about the provision of public transit, and the effect this can have upon people's lives. There are always improvements that could be made to York's transport infrastructure: more orbital routes as opposed to the hub and spoke method used at the moment; expansion of the car-free zone within the city; further funding to improve what is already a superb city for cycling; bus lanes to avoid congestion. A bus from Tang Hall to Aldi via the University, however, is going to be of limited utility.
Students are already getting a great deal with ticketing and provision of a 24-hour bus from the city to campus. For a real, genuine travel alternative, there’s only one campaign: #Trolleybustice now.