Over one hundred angry residents squeezed into Follifoot Village Hall to voice their frustration at Transdev’s plans to re-route the 770 bus on Thursday evening.
Disgruntled residents heckled Transdev’s marketing director, Nigel Eggleton, when he explained issues with scheduling had led to the decision.
Mr Eggleton said the changes were necessary as the service struggled to operate within the Traffic Commissioner’s strict regulations requiring 95 per cent of journeys to run no more than five minutes late.
Outraged residents accused Transdev of re-routing the bus route to compete with rival firm Connexions’ X70 express service. One resident pointed out that the new timetable will allow the 770 to arrive at stops five minutes before the rival X70.
Craig Temple, managing director of Connexions buses said: “When we set up the X70 route we made a conscious decision to take a fast direct route between Harrogate and Wetherby.
He added that Connexions is considering a few options relating to Follifoot.
From March 10 the 770 will no longer serve Rudding Park or Follifoot.
Follifoot Parish Council chairman, Brian Fisher said: “So many people in the village rely on the 770, we can’t just let this service go.”
Peter Banks, managing director of Rudding Park added: “I have 60 members of staff who rely on this bus service who are wondering how they will get to work after March 10.”
A representative from North Yorkshire County Council Transport Services, Chris Roberts told the gathered crowd that the council “simply cannot afford” to subsidise the route.
He said: “We put the route out to tender and received prices between £30,000 and £75,000 per annum.
“The council has to make savings of £22.9m, so regretfully we are unable to fund the service.”
One local resident, Sue Foster, said this was unacceptable.
She said: “Rudding Park will lose out because of this route change, they have done an awful lot for you and must earn you a lot of money.
“That £30,000 doesn’t seem a lot in comparison to all they do for you.”
Ms Foster went on to criticize local councillors’ response. She asked: “Where were our representatives, why didn’t they bother to tell us this was happening.”
North Yorkshire County Councillor for the village, John Savage said: “I will fight for this service for you.
However he added: “It is difficult with a council that has no money and a bus company that aims to make money.”
Transdev is expected to have a meeting with North Yorkshire County Council on Tuesday.
See Harrogateadvertiser.co.uk for any updates.