On Wednesday 15 November the YUSU Sabbatical team launched a new campaign called #FixFirst. The campaign comes after a series of changes made throughout the year to First Bus’s student routes that have been opposed by YUSU.
The campaign was launched by YUSU President Pierrick Roger and Community and Well-Being Officer Hannah Nimmo, on both social media and in the Sabbs-in-short newsletter.
Using The Action Network, the campaign asks members of the university community to send in their own letters about their thoughts on the changes to the routes, which will be sent to 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.
As of 24 November, the campaign has received 6,720 letters. Hannah Nimmo said “I am overwhelmed by the positive response the campaign has had!”, adding that “[it] has been incredible to lead and oversee, and I am extremely grateful for how much engagement that the campaign garnered”.
Some of the letters sent in the campaign have been made public under the #FirstFailure. On the importance of these letters, Hannah explained “it truly demonstrates the campaign was an essential one to run. Students have had mixed experiences with First Bus for many years, but in the last few months, I have received significant amounts of negative feedback about the bus services not working for students.
This is why we wanted to include student testimonies within the campaign, to show that this is real issues that are being faced by real people and real customers of First Bus, so they need to look to address these concerns as a matter of urgency and restore a service to students that allows them to have safe and convenient access to the University and their education.”
Nimmo added that her main message to both First Bus and the University is to “Put the key stakeholders first in making decisions on the University of York bus services, which for me, is the students and staff of the University”.
In August, it was announced that First Bus would be increasing prices for both students and staff. The price increased in ranges between 22-30 percent, this was seen most drastically in the £10 for 10 tickets, which increased to £13 for 10 tickets.
The previously free 66 and 67 were replaced by a series of buses, the C1, that go between York Sport Village and The Retreat.
Nimmo explained the need for this new campaign “The campaign comes from student dissatisfaction with changes that were made to the University bus services at the start of this academic year.” Going on to state “From a Union perspective, not consulting students on a bus service where they are the biggest stakeholder group, or at least not engaging with feedback from their elected representatives, is not acceptable. I took the feedback that students had given to me and the Union and used this to shape the ‘asks’ for the campaign”.
The campaign took a few weeks to put together, as Nimmo stated the planning involved “ gathering student feedback and constructing a campaign that addressed concerns raised by students whilst also lobbying to make changes to the services that have benefits for the whole University community, including staff and local residents who also rely on the services”.
For students outside of the 66/67 route Nimmo said “I have tried to push for the student single tickets (10 for £13 or 20 for £26) to be extended to the 6 service too, because a lot of students use this service to get to campus and this is something I can look to push again,”, adding that “if students are facing issues in the Tang Hall area, please feel free to get in touch with me about your experiences and I can give feedback to the University and to First”.
Nimmo explained that the main goal of the campaign is the “ restoration of a University bus service that works. In my first year in Office, I was able to work with our Union President, Pierrick, collaboratively with management at First Bus York to address concerns of overcrowding on the service to bring a service that students were more satisfied with, but then these changes (both to routes and a price increase during a cost of living crisis) left students feeling more frustrated than ever before”.
This campaign is ongoing and students can still submit their letters and get in contact with Hannah Nimmo if they have any concerns. Nimmo stated that “I hope to provide more of an update to students on the outcomes of the campaign once we have some confirmation on the next steps”.