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Volvo B6BLE outside York railway station on service 1
|Headquarters||Tanner Row, York
James St, York (Depot)
|Routes||Routes Include York Park and Ride|
First York is the largest bus operator in York, England. It is part of First Group, a major bus and train operator with a turnover of nearly £2.5 billion a year and 62,000 employees across the UK and North America. The York depot is in James Street, and maintains a fleet of 110 buses.
First York was previously Rider York in the 1990's until First bought them out along with other Rider bases across the UK, first ran the same routes for a while before completely renewing all routes with New destinations and new numbers, gradually the services have changed over the years and sections of routes and whole routes withdrawn altogether some have been picked up by other operators but some areas No longer have a service round residential areas such as Tang Hall and Osbaldwick where the services are now on the main through roads of the area and Badger Hill no longer has a service with the Main road being A1079 and Field Lane were East Yorkshire buses are the City Centre services. Due to the services being not as popular First has tried to achieve more passengers but has failed a number of times due to the routes being made in Bradford and having underused services that run due to demand.
A breakdown of the buses operated by First York is as follows:
- 21 Volvo B7L/Wright Eclipse - B41F
- 5 Volvo B6BLE /Wright Crusader 2 - B38F
- 12 Volvo B7TL/Alexander ALX400 - H49/27F
- 35 Volvo B7RLE/Wright Eclipse Urban - B43/44F
- 15 Mercedes-Benz Citaro - O530 CITARO-G — AB51D
- 12 Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini
2001 and 2002 were significant years, for they marked the arrival of the B7Ls, B6BLEs, B7TLs and Optare Solos - 98 new vehicles in the space of a two-year period represented significant investment in the First York fleet. Many buses replaced over the years have been DAF SB220s, both step-entrance and low floor Dennis Darts, Leyland Olympians, Leyland Leopards, Leyland Nationals, Leyland Atlanteans, Scania L113s, Mercedes-Benz 709Ds. For a short while during 2006 First York operated Dennis Tridents from Somerset and also three Optare Solos before Veolia took over a few routes. A number of buses were cascaded to other First companies as newer buses arrived in 2008. The 9 Wright Eclipse Fusion bendibuses have also left the fleet and now operate in Leeds & Somerset. On 26 January 2009, 15 articulated Mercedes-Benz Citaros were introduced to First York's fleet.
There are fifteen colour-coded Overground routes (numbers 1-14,16) which operate at weekday frequencies of between eight and thirty minutes, and a limited number of other services with less intensive frequencies.
First York also operates the city's Park & Ride network
Between 27 February 2007 and 26 April 2009, First York operated a service linking the city with Leeds Bradford Airport. This was branded as service 120 York Aircoach/Airlink. It was based on a model and brand successfully used by Aircoach, a sister FirstGroup company operating to and from Dublin Airport. 4 Volvo B10M-62 coaches previously operated by First Coaches and First Trafford Park were acquired for this operation. The coaches were fleet numbered 20461-4 registered X191-4HFB. All wore First Excel coach branding with additional "York Aircoach" branding applied. The service was later rebranded as "York Airlink 787" to recognise that coaches were replaced by standard fleet single deckers on the route. This airport route was withdrawn on 26 April 2009 due to low patronage.
Unlike First companies in many other cities the usage of route branding is somewhat limited on the York fleet. Apart from the heavily branded Park and Ride vehicles and previously the ftr's on route 4, few if any other vehicles carry route branding. In the past route branding existed on a number of routes including services 1, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12 and York Aircoaches.
York park and ride
York also has its own park and ride service, operated by First York. It was designed to relieve York's overcrowded car parks. These services form a large part of First York's high frequency overground network and are shown in the table above.
York Racecourse Shuttle
First York shuttle buses (Service 197) to and from York railway station and the racecourse on racedays only, starting at approximately 11:30 am from over the road from York's railway station, with the last bus departing the racecourse half an hour after the last race. This service is shared between First York, Transdev York and York Pullman.
In May 2006, First York became the first bus operator in the UK to introduce Volvo/Wright StreetCars as part of the 'ftr' scheme being trialled in the city. A partnership between First Group, Wright Group and City of York Council, ftr was marketed as a "truly groundbreaking service...the future of travel." Eleven articulated StreetCars now operate on the number 4 route which links the University of York, the City Centre and the suburb of Acomb. Each bus could carry 42 seated and 71 standing passengers.
These buses contained a driving compartment separating the 'pilot'(i.e. driver) from the passengers, and used GPS satellite tracking technology to give traffic light priority to late running buses. Much was made in the marketing of the ftr of the ability to buy 'm-tickets' on mobile phones, and prepaid tickets which can be scanned by the ticket machines. However, the automated ticket system was a failure as there was a high incidence of technical problems, and the machines were taken out of operation and boarded over. As a result, First York was forced to employ further conductors ("customer service hosts").
The ftr scheme has been largely unpopular with people in York for a number of reasons, such as problems with ticketing, pricing, being late and being excessively long. Protests were especially heated among students and the York University Student Union was engaged in negotiations with First York to introduce student discounts. The University later discussed contracts with York Pullman, which is a smaller firm in the city and as a result of competition, the price of the ticket has dropped significantly.
The ftr scheme led to extension of bus stop areas to accommodate the length of these vehicles, however in many cases this was done in contravention of the guidance given in the council's highway design document leading to ftr's blocking the road at keep left bollards, thus causing unnecessary congestion and frustration for other road users. In 2009 First replaced the ftr with conventional buses on evenings and on Sundays.
Following its success at the 2011 local elections, the controlling Labour group on the City of York Council has confirmed that the ftr buses will be replaced. First agreed and the ftr vehicles will ran in York for the last time on 10 March 2012. They will be transferred to another First West Yorkshire service. Their replacements in York are 11 Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini (37246-56) from the Rotherham depot of First South Yorkshire.
- Stuart Martin, Bill Potter and David Donati (eds.), "2005 First Bus Handbook", page 5. British Bus Publishing, 2005
- First York website - 6 April 2006
- "Aircoach". FirstGroup. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
- First Group's ftr website - 6 April 2006
- Laycock, Mike (2 October 2010). "University of York backs new bus funding". York Press.
- City leaders move to axe York's ftr buses" (The Press, York, 26 December, 2011)
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