First Leeds

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First Leeds
logo
image
A First Leeds ftr bus (left) and a Wright Eclipse Gemini (right) on Vicar Lane in August 2010
Parent FirstGroup
Founded 1995, formerly Yorkshire Rider
Headquarters South Accommodation Road, Leeds
Service area Leeds, Bradford, Ilkley, Skipton
Service type Bus services
Website www.firstgroup.com

First Leeds is one of the bus companies serving the area of West Yorkshire, England. It forms part of FirstGroup, a company operating transport services across the British Isles and in North America. The company operates within the area covered by Metro, a public body responsible for helping to co-ordinate public transport services in the West Yorkshire area.

History[edit]

Numerous First Leeds buses on The Headrow.
A First Leeds depot on Kirkstall Road.

Following bus deregulation in 1986, the MetroBus (the West Yorkshire PTE) fleet was renamed Yorkshire Rider Ltd. The livery changed from verona green and buttermilk to a bright green and cream livery and a new logo with was a stylised "YR" logo, plus the name "Yorkshire Rider", with an area on the logo that incorporated the town in which the garage for that bus was located. In October 1988 Yorkshire Rider was bought by its management for £23 million.

Yorkshire Rider was then bought by Badgerline, a Bristol-based bus company, in 1994. Following the merger of Badgerline with GRT Ltd to form First Bus in 1995, its services were rebranded:

  • Leeds City Link - covering the Leeds area with depots in Hunslet, Bramley and Cherry Row
  • Calderline - covering Halifax and Calderdale with garages in Halifax and Todmorden
  • Kingfisher Huddersfield - covering Kirklees with garages at Old Field House Lane
  • Bradford Traveller - covering Bradford with a depot at Bowling Back Lane

These names were later replaced with First Leeds, First Calderline, First Huddersfield and First Bradford.

Until recently, First Quickstep, was also part of the First group. It was based at the same Kirkstall Road depot as First Leeds but was a separate organization. It is now a part of First Leeds and it runs the FreeCityBus service.

In July 2005 the company took over Morley-based Black Prince Buses, a large independent company that was once a rival to Yorkshire Rider. The Morley depot was closed down and the fleet was sold, with the exception of a couple of single-deckers and the large fleet of Scania N113 double-deckers, which were repainted into First livery and placed on the 2/3/3A and 12/13/13A services until summer 2007, when most of them were withdrawn and replaced by brand new Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Geminis. Some Scanias remained on the routes until early 2008 when more B9TLs arrived.

On 18 May 2008 the Kirkstall Road depot was closed after 111 years of public transport use and operations moved to a new complex in Hunslet.[1] The site will be redeveloped as part of Leeds City Council's Kirkstall Road Renaissance Area project.[2]

Fleet[edit]

First Leeds buses at Wetherby bus station.
An older First Leeds bus on service in Armley, 2009

The company has an extremely large fleet which includes Wright Eclipse Gemini, Solar and articulated buses (Volvo B10LA), and Dennis Darts with Alexander Dash (new in 1995) and Plaxton Pointer (1996) bodies.

Other buses in the fleet include a large batch of Volvo B7TL's with Alexander ALX400 boywork new in 2000-2 and a sizable batch of Volvo Olympians with Alexander Royale bodywork new in 1997/8. Older double deckers include Leyland Olympians with Roe and Optare bodywork (Optares being new in 1985-7, built to a Roe design) bought in 1982-7 (of which a lot were withdrawn in 2006). They also have a big batch of Scania N113's, some new mainly with Alexander bodywork plus one with Northern Counties Palatine in 1990/1, some Alexanders from Black Prince (new in 1989-91) and some long-wheelbase East Lancs E-type bodied examples new to Hull in 1989. Most of the Scania double-deckers have been withdrawn or transferred within the Group, replaced by 30 new Wright Eclipse Geminis on Volvo B9TL chassis. In 2012 First Leeds gained 98 Olympic Shuttle Volvo B9TL Wright Gemini 2's from London...

They also had a lot of Alexander Strider bodied Scania N113's new in 1993/4, of which many have been replaced by new Volvo Eclipse Gemini B9TL's. Low floor single deckers are mainly Wright bodied Scanias bought in 1998-9: early ones are L113 and later ones are the L94UB. The newest single deckers are Volvo B7RLE/Wright Eclipse Urbans new in spring 2009.

For many years the company operated a large fleet of Leyland Atlanteans. The last Atlanteans were withdrawn in May 2004. Many have since entered preservation.

Services[edit]

First Leeds operates services mainly in the Leeds area, including Hunslet, Kirkstall, Morley, Pudsey and Seacroft and also run services into Bradford, Ilkley, Otley and Skipton. These services are operated from two depots in Leeds, which are based in Bramley and at its headquarters at Hunslet. In addition to this, there are several First services that operate in the Leeds area, which are run from Bradford and Halifax depots.

List of routes[edit]

This is a summary of First Leeds services:[3]

Overground[edit]

In the last few years, First has introduced the 'Overground' brand on services that are frequent during the daytime. Based on the London Underground, where each frequent line has a recognisable colour, each Overground service has its own colour. The concept is now a prominent fixture throughout all First bus companies in the UK.

In December 2007, First changed some of its Overground route colours. Route 2 changed from yellow to red, combining with routes 3 and 3A, while route 12 changed from green to blue, combining with routes 13 and 13A. The decision was made by First Leeds because they believed it would "make it simpler to identify where the buses go".[4] In 2009, the routes 33 and 33A changed from the Light Green Line to the Green Line. In 2010, route 5 became the Yellow Line, while in 2011, a new Overground was introduced with the 14 adopting the Beige Line between Pudsey and Halton Moor only for its fate to be withdrawn in 2012. In October 2012 First Leeds route 4 re-adopted its pre-ftr colour by once again becoming the Olive Line.

The services that form the Overground network in Leeds are:[5]

Night buses[edit]

First Leeds operated several night buses services, but the only one that remains is the 95 on Monday to Saturday nights.

ftr[edit]

A First Leeds ftr bus in Pudsey in 2007

On 3 January 2007, a new concept of public transport was introduced to Leeds, the ftr, on the Olive Line 4 service from Whinmoor to Pudsey.

It is the second scheme to be introduced by First Group after the first scheme in York. However the scheme in York has faced many troubles like underpowering of the engine and ticket machine problems. However the engine problems have been rectified and "Customer Service Hosts" have been employed who will issue tickets to passengers. Also unlike York where the 4 service was converted to ftr vehicle operation within a day. First decided to drip feed the ftr vehicles onto the service so passengers could get used to it and also minimise all other troubles that occurred in York.

The ftr are based on Wright StreetCar body which is on a Volvo B7LA chassis, but the chassis on the StreetCars are different from the conventional B7LA, with no "closet" at the rear of vehicle. The livery is designed by Ray Stenning's Best Impressions design agency.

The ftr's are now in use on route 72 under the new brand name "hyperlink" with 4's reverting to conventional bus operations.

7 Series[edit]

In March 2011, First introduced the "7 series" made up of routes 7/7A/7S/X7 renumbered from 71/35/45 and X35 respectively. They resume their former routes but are now run by brand new Volvo B5L vehicles which include leather seats and further reducing CO2. Some B7RLE Urban Eclipse remained until more B5Ls arrived. These new vehicles were also placed on routes 98/99/X98.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New £10million First Bus HQ in Leeds Will Help Tackle Road Congestion". First Group. Retrieved 28 May 2008. 
  2. ^ "Kirkstall Road Renaissance Area - Planning Framework". Leeds City Council. Retrieved 28 May 2008. 
  3. ^ "Current Timetables - Leeds". First Group. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "First To Know". First Group. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  5. ^ "First Leeds Network Map". First Group. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 

External links[edit]