TRANSPORT chiefs in York say they are delighted to have been ranked among the best in the country by passengers.

A new survey by national watchdog Passenger Focus interviewed 1,000 passengers on York's Park & Ride services, First's city services and Transdev's services, and compared the reviews with 18 other local authorities.

The research found York's buses were considered best value for money, in the best condition, and bus drivers were ranked in the top quarter for their welcome and helpfulness, appearances and smooth driving. The study also ranked York's services in the top quarter of satisfaction with bus stops, comfort and safety of vehicles.

Ben Gilligan, managing director of First in York, said the high rankings reflected the "increasing number of customers" now travelling with the company after pricing and network changes made last year.

He said: “I'm very pleased with these results and in particular the high ratings for our drivers and bus accessibility.

"This survey will help us continue to make further improvements and attract even more people to use our bus services."

John Carr, chairman of the York Quality Bus Partnership, said the results showed "fares, reliability and other basics are moving in the right direction".

He said: “It was a privilege to be at the national launch of the Passenger Focus results and hear York praised for its high ranking. This is a tribute to all concerned - the operators’ staff especially, management and council for working together to improve performance and not least the increasing numbers of York bus users."

Two aspects of the service were in the bottom half of the survey, including the information provided at bus stops, and service frequency. However, punctuality was in the top third of results.

Councillor Dave Merrett said the results showed the trial closure of Lendal Bridge was working, alongside other changes being made through the Better Bus Areas project - results shared by a council survey carried out in March 2012, and again in October last year.

He said: “It’s essential that York makes the most of the city’s bus services to allow the city to grow whilst minimising traffic congestion. The results of both these surveys are extremely encouraging, showing that passenger perceptions have improved as we and our partners have invested in the network."