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From Ilkley Gazette, April 11th, 2019
Written by Claire Lomax

PARENTS battling to save a vital school bus service are to set up a Friends of the P99 bus in a bid to push for its continuation. The decision to form the campaign group was made following a meeting last week between concerned families and officers from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).

WYCA is currently reviewing a number of its Mybus primary school services which do not meet its value for money criteria, including the P99 bus which serves Ben Rhydding Primary School, Sacred Heart Primary RC Primary School, Ashlands Primary School and All Saints Primary School.
It has 47 registered passengers with 22 regular users. Figures obtained by researchers working for Ilkley's MP John Grogan and shared with parents show, based on 22 passengers, revenue from fares and concessions is £6.5k and the Combined Authority contributes £12.5k per annum. The annual cost of the service with a passenger assistant is £44.5k and without a passenger assistant it is £34.5k. The required annual contribution for the WYCA would, therefore, need to be between £15.5k and £25.5k a year depending on whether or not a passenger assistant is required. Based on a Mybus primary risk assessment, a passenger assistant is not required if a bus has less than 30 passengers.

John Grogan MP said: "I chaired a meeting in the Clarke Foley Centre on Friday about the future of the service. Fifteen parents and grandparents attended together with representatives of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (the body made up of the five local councils in West Yorkshire which fund the bus) and the four schools which are served by the bus. The Mayor of Ilkley was also in attendance.

"Many of the parents powerfully put across the case for the continuation of the bus. For some it meant the difference between being able to work and not. It was agreed that a Friends of the P99 bus would be set up and greater efforts made to market the service particularly to the parents of children starting in reception classes later this year.
"The aim would be to substantially increase usage and so meet the value for money criteria of the Authority. It was agreed that we would assemble again in a few weeks time to further discuss a plan for the future of the bus which would then be considered by the officers of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. I am hopeful that we can reach a solution."

A West Yorkshire Combined Authority spokesperson said: “Officers of the Combined Authority attended a very productive meeting on Friday and are looking at the options discussed. The engagement period is still ongoing and we will communicate the next steps to schools, parents and interested parties in May.”