Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Closure of Lendal Bridge ‘a boost for buses’
YORK’S biggest bus operator claims the trial closure of Lendal Bridge is helping to improve service reliability and increase passenger numbers.
First said new figures had shown that the number of people using its buses in York had increased by five per cent since August – equivalent to an extra 15,000 customers per week.
It said better service reliability, price reductions and network improvements were the reasons the bus operator was attracting both new customers to try out the bus as well as growing satisfaction for existing customers.
“Customer research highlights the importance of reliability in attracting more people onto buses and First has stressed the importance of the restriction in traffic over Lendal Bridge in improving reliability and encouraging more people to use buses in York,” said a spokesman.
“The Lendal Bridge trial and the clearly defined city highway management strategy has given First the confidence to accelerate its business plan in York, which aims to improve bus services and encourage more passengers on to its buses.”
The company’s comments come after strong criticism of the six-month closure of the bridge to cars between 10.30am and 5pm.
Some businesses claim it has damaged trade and Business Secretary Vince Cable said at the weekend there had been an “extraordinary” lack of consultation beforehand, which could have prevented a number of pitfalls.
Ben Gilligan, managing director for First in York, said: “Our customers are telling us that the reduction in traffic over Lendal Bridge, added to the reduction in fares and the improvements in the way we run our services, has led to more people talking about and then using First bus services.
“This is the start of a new and exciting journey for First in York and shows what can be achieved when we work closely with the local authority and other key partners.”
He added that First had a number of “new and exciting” initiatives planned, including electric buses. It could only do this because it had confidence in the city’s highway management strategy.
Coun Dave Merrett, Cabinet Member for Transport, said First’s news was encouraging and supported the council’s reasoning behind introducing the Lendal Bridge traffic trial, which was to reduce traffic going over the bridge and through the city centre as part of a long-term vision to create an even more attractive and thriving city centre.
“Through this six-month trial and our new York By Bus campaign, we aim to encourage even more people to travel by bus and increase passenger numbers by 18 per cent by 2015,” he said.
“Supported through part of the £3.5 million Government Better Bus Area Fund awarded to the council last year, the campaign will help to deliver real benefits for the city and for every £1 spent in York this project should deliver £4 of benefits.”
He said the campaign was supported by all bus operators in York.
Comments are closed on this article.