First Leeds

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First Leeds
First Leeds 37699.jpg
First Leeds 37699 at Yeadon Morrisons in 2021.
Founded1995, formerly Yorkshire Rider
HeadquartersSouth Accommodation Road, Leeds
Service areaLeeds, Otley, Ilkley, Skipton, Wetherby
Service typeBus services

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 in 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.


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. In October 1988 Yorkshire Rider was bought by its management for £23 million.

Yorkshire Rider was then bought for £38 million by Badgerline, a Bristol-based bus company, in 1994.[1] Following the merger of the Badgerline Group with the GRT Group to form First Bus in 1995, its services were rebranded:

  • Leeds City Link – covering the Leeds area with depots in Hunslet and Bramley
  • 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. 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.

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.[2] The site was planned to be redeveloped in 2008 as part of Leeds City Council's Kirkstall Road Renaissance Area project.[3]


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

As of June 2020, the First Leeds fleet was as follows:

There are a large number of Wright StreetDecks operate on many city routes as part of the LeedsCity brand introduced in 2018, as well as 25 Wright StreetDecks on routes to Bradford. There are also 22 Volvo B7TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini double deckers in service, with another 11 from the same batch moved to Huddersfield (32461 - 32471), 2 to Bradford (32450/32460), 1 scrapped (32439), and 7 to Stagecoach Group (32453 - 32459) with the First Wirral/Chester operations. There are 8 Alexander Dennis Enviro400 MMCs, used primarily on the X84/X85 services to Otley, Ilkley, and Skipton. There are 18 Alexander Dennis Enviro400s dating from 2014, however around half of these have transferred to Halifax, with the remainder expected to follow suit. There are currently around 50 Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini double deckers, in use on most services. There were previously more, but some have transferred to Halifax or Bradford, with 3 passing to First Cymru. There are also 22 Volvo B5LH/Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 hybrids in service primarily on the '7series' routes, although they occasionally stray onto other routes.

Previous double deckers operated include Volvo B7TLs with Alexander ALX400 bodywork that were latterly transferred elsewhere, Volvo Olympians with Alexander Royale, Alexander R-Type, and Northern Counties Palatine bodywork, elderly Leyland Olympians with Charles H. Roe bodywork, and a fleet of Leyland Atlanteans, the last being withdrawn in May 2004. There were several Scania N113s mainly with Alexander R-Type bodywork but a few with Northern Counties Palatine bodywork that languished for several years, with more being acquired with Black Prince in July 2005. More recent buses included the fleet of 98 Volvo B9TLs with Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodywork, however all of these have been transferred out of Leeds to South Yorkshire, Norwich, Cymru, and the West of England.

Current single deckers in operation include 10 Wright StreetLites transferred from First Cymru in 2017 in exchange for 10 of the aforementioned Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini 2s. There are also 35 Euro4-engined Volvo B7RLEs with Wright Eclipse Urban bodywork, and 12 similar buses with Euro3 engines. A diminishing number of Volvo B7Ls with Wright Eclipse Metro bodywork operate the less frequent services to places such as Middleton and Halton Moor, along with Scania L94UBs with Wright Solar bodywork, but some of these have been withdrawn and one L94UB sold to Connexionsbuses. The Driver Training fleet consists of a handful of Volvo B10BLEs with Wright Renown bodywork, four Volvo B7Ls similar to those previously mentioned, and some Euro3-engined Volvo B7RLEs similar to the native Leeds ones, transferred from Leicester to allow the withdrawal of the older Volvos, but this hasn't happened yet.

The past fleet included Scania L113CRLs and Scania L94UBs with Wright Axcess-Ultralow and Wright Axcess-Floline bodywork respectively, along with 7 Volvo B6BLEs with Wright Crusader 2 bodywork. There were several more of the previously mentioned Euro3-engined Volvo B7RLEs, but these have either been cascaded elsewhere or scrapped, with some (66700 - 66706) sold to Stagecoach Group with the previously mentioned Volvo B7TLs (32453 - 32459). There were several Dennis Darts with a selection of bodywork including Plaxton Pointer, Alexander Dash, and Marshall Capital. A handful of Optare Solos were operated, but these have now transferred elsewhere or been withdrawn. There were also some Scania N113s with Alexander Strider bodywork that were withdrawn in 2009, and a pair of Volvo B10Ms that operated in the training fleet, but these have since been withdrawn.

In the past, bendybuses operated on the 1 service from Beeston to Holt Park. There were 15 Volvo B10LAs with Wright Fusion bodywork, and 6 Volvo B7LAs with Wright Eclipse Fusion bodywork. These have now all been scrapped. Some Volvo B7LAs were operated with Wright StreetCar bodywork on the 'ftr' services, and were later transferred to Hyperlink route 72, which has since been unbranded, and the buses withdrawn.


First Leeds operates services mainly in the Leeds area, including Hunslet, Kirkstall, Morley, Pudsey and Seacroft and also run services into Bradford, Ilkley, Otley , Wetherby 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.

Most First Leeds services use the City Centre bus box rather than Leeds City bus station which is mostly used by other operators; First Leeds however is the primary operator at Otley, Pudsey, Seacroft and Wetherby bus stations. First Leeds also operate services from three park and ride sites at Elland Road, King Lane and Temple Green.[4]

List of routes[edit]

This is a summary of First Leeds services:[5]


The Brown Line in Overground branding in 2010. The articulated buses have since been phased out.

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".[6] 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.


56 at Whinmoor in the Pulse livery seen in 2017.

First started removing its overground branding in 2015, and it was replaced by Pulse, its slogan is buses so frequent, you can turn up and go. The branding is Bright Pink and covers the top area of the upper deck windscreen and roughly a third of the upper deck side windows. The branding was applied to most of the following buses, Volvo B9TL Wright Gemini 2, Volvo B7TL Wright Gemini, Volvo B9TL Wright Gemini and all ADL E400. No single deckers got the branding.[7] [8] Although the line colours have been dropped from the buses and they are no longer mentioned in literature, the route maps still colour these services in their former colours.[9]

Night buses[edit]

First Leeds operated several night buses services, but the only one that remains is the N1 on Monday to Saturday nights, but only between Leeds City Centre and West Park primarily for students.


A First Leeds ftr bus in Pudsey in 2007

The scheme in York has faced many troubles like underpowering of the engine and ticket machine problems.

The ftr's were, until 2016 in use on route 72 under the new brand name "hyperlink" with 4's reverting to conventional bus operations. The 72 is now operated by Wright Streetdeck buses. The 72 service is now operated by first Bradford.

7 Series[edit]

A First Leeds bus seen on the Headrow in 2018 in the new green livery

Some Wright Eclipse remained until more B5Ls arrived. These new vehicles were also placed on routes X98/X99. As of February 2015, Hybrids were removed from X98/X99 routes due to the use of the buses increasing journey times, they were replaced by other buses at the same depot.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jarosz, Andrew (23 April 1994). "Badgerline wins control of Rider". Coach and Bus Week. Peterborough: Emap Response.
  2. ^ "New £10million First Bus HQ in Leeds Will Help Tackle Road Congestion". First Group. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  3. ^ "Kirkstall Road Renaissance Area – Planning Framework". Leeds City Council. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  4. ^ "Successful Opening of Temple Green Park and Ride". First Leeds. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Current Timetables – Leeds". First Group. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  6. ^ "First To Know" (PDF). First Group. Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  7. ^[bare URL]
  8. ^ "First Leeds Network Map" (PDF). First Group. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Leeds Network Map" (PDF). First Group. Retrieved 15 July 2017.

External links[edit]