YORK’S biggest bus operator has apologised for unreliable services on several key city routes - and pledged to tackle the problems.

First York managing director Marc Bichtemann says the firm has suffered teething difficulties since using advanced technology and a more "data led approach" to schedule services.

“Some of our services have been negatively affected as a result, particularly services 1, 6 and 12, which have suffered reliability issues during the peak hours,” he told The Press.

“I would like to apologise to customers who have faced delays as a result of the recent changes – we’re focussing hard on getting this right.”

He said First would be putting things right by making a further change to its timetables on December 1, and also by adding later journeys and reintroducing standard departure times for evening and night services.

“At that point, the current timetable and real time information problems affecting service 12 will also be fixed and the various roadworks causing longer journey times are due to have finished.”

An example of passenger dissatisfaction came in a letter to The Press from "a very disgruntled" Dave Matthewman, who said he went for a number 1 bus in Blossom Street only to find people telling him the last one was now at 11.11pm, having changed from 11.23pm to 11.19pm recently.

“Why didn’t somebody tell us?” he asked.

“A lot of people were waiting but with the electronic timetable out of order we waited thinking it was late.”

Mr Bichtemann said customers had told First that punctual and reliable services were crucial to journey satisfaction and the firm had made significant progress over the last three years in improving both reliability and punctuality.

“We have done this through our partnership with City of York Council and using a more and more data led approach as opposed more traditional ways of scheduling our buses,” he said.

“I recognise that as we use advanced technology to do this, teething problems will occur and this has certainly been the case with the most recent timetable change.”

He also revealed that First would continue to make printed timetables available on demand for people who did not want the information online.

He said there was a variety of different views on the necessity of providing printed timetables and First needed to be conscious of the resources used and sustainability challenges, and also needed to consider that many customers had moved into the digital world.

“We have reduced the numbers of printed timetables significantly over the last 12 months against a growth of usage of our service in York. This gives me confidence that customers can access information about our services in more sustainable ways,” he said.

“It is however important that those customers who need a physical paper timetable can easily obtain one and we have therefore agreed with City of York Council and Visit York that printed timetables can be obtained on demand from the Bus & Visitor Information Point at York Railway Station or at York Visitor Information Centre on Museum Street.”