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Issue 8 - November 1972
O.K. For Some
Durham has a new bus service on Whinney Hill. It runs every 7 ½ minutes in the morning and every quarter of an hour in the afternoon until 11 at night. And it's free! Has Durham become enlightened at last? Well, there's only one problem - your common or garden person isn't allowed on it - this is strictly a students only toy. Moreover by a 'strange coincidence' the day before the students got this new plaything the 53 service (which runs down Whinney Hill) was withdrawn by United Buses because it was "uneconomic".

Your intrepid Muther Grumble reporters, feeling that students have quite enough privileges already, decided to investigate further.

We tried to find out why the University had decided to charter these buses from United.

Paul Moss from Durham Students Union, who is also a city councillor and who argued fiercely in favour of the service in the Council (it's nice to see councillors representing their wards), said that the service was only an eight-week temporary experiment. The idea was to ease the traffic problem in Durham and to stop young girls being attacked on Prebends Bridge (town girls don't get attacked on Prebends …).

A spokesman from the University (who asked to remain anonymous) said the County Planners had insisted that when the University take over the rest of Durham in a few years' time they provide a bus service in from the colleges (did someone mention a temporary experiment?). When the new bridge over the river is built next year the bus will take in Bede College as well. What about the second class teacher training students out at Neville's Cross? Well, they were asked and said they didn't want it. "They" of course means the college authorities - the students were slightly annoyed that they weren't consulted.

We were intrigued to know how much this service would cost.

The University spokesman said: "I'm afraid I can't tell you that".

Pat Wolfe (DSU president), when I asked him if he could tell me, said: "No, not for Grumble". In fact the experiment will cost the university £2,000 a term.

However we were assured by the gentleman from the University that the service would be self-supporting. It would be free for the first month; then there would be a charge of 2p a journey. Someone had worked out that such a charge would mean that the service would pay for itself. The University had no intention of continuing with the experiment if it did not pay for itself. (See what the County Planners said above.) You may also remember that United withdrew the 53 because it was "uneconomic".

We did our sums and discovered that if the service was to pay for itself, 2,000 students a day would have to use the service - that's 2/3 of the student population. So who's telling fibs?

Will the service be open to the public?

Paul Moss said no - you see the idea is to protect young girls from the ravages of the town kids. And if we let them on the bus what will they do on the back seat?

The University gentleman said "yes eventually" (I should forget the idea of a temporary service - it only confuses the issue).

The University Vice-Chancellor said: "It is our intention, if we can make our buses a success, and if we can get the necessary licences to throw the service open to the public".

The Town Clerk said: "It will not be a public service vehicle".

So take your pick.

And the people of Whinney Hill? Another company is planning a service to the area. When asked if they would object, United Buses replied: "Yes, of course".

Funny world, isn't it?