Bridlington’s hospital shuttle bus has been given a 12-week lifeline, but it really is a case of use it or lose it.
The service will continue into the new year, but passenger numbers must rise dramatically if it is to have a future.
The number of daily journeys could be reduced to keep costs down but the public has been warned getting more people to use the bus is the only way to keep it running.
David Boden, transport manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “In September, it cost £8,400 to run and we only covered 28% of that, which isn’t brilliant.
“I have been able to get a second pilot agreed, to run to the end of January, and cover the shortfall for those 12 weeks.
“But we need more bums on seats, let’s be frank about it.
“We need to get up to 45% or 50% by January so it has a chance of being sustainable in the long run. If we are still not getting it up towards 50%, we have to be honest with the people of Bridlington.”
Bridlington Town Council has unanimously agreed to give another £4,000 to cover some of the shortfall incurred over the next three months.
They will also be sending out more than 17,000 leaflets to homes in Bridlington with its newsletter in the next couple of weeks, to try to promote the service.
The mayor of Bridlington, Cllr Liam Dealtry said: “This is our final chance to save the shuttle bus.
“The people of Bridlington need to use this service because a lot of hard work has gone into keeping it going for another 12 weeks.”
At present, the shuttle bus makes six return journeys between Bridlington and Scarborough hospitals on weekdays, and five trips on Saturday and Sundays.
The first 12-week pilot scheme began in July, after negotiations between East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Bridlington Town Council, York Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and Scarborough and Ryedale CCG.
Before that, the shuttle bus was free but passengers were told to pay £4 for a single fare, £5 for a return or £30 for a weekly or 10-trip ticket during the summer.
“We haven’t had a single complaint about the fares, but some of the journeys are carrying nobody,” said Mr Boden, who is leaving East Riding Council soon and said he would be saddened to see months of hard work fail after he has moved on.
“Fewer journeys would bring the cost down and we have discussed Saturdays and Sundays, when the bus is carrying very few people.”