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November 08 2017
By Mel Holley

Mel was routeONE magazine’s Editor until autumn 2018. He has more than 30 years’ experience in road and rail transport journalism.

Transdev lights up the north with
new cross-boundary route

Investment in electric buses in Harrogate and York, re-freshing of its brands and creating cross-boundary city-to-city connections across the north is the vision that Transdev set out to politicians and transport officers as it staged a jaw-dropping VIP launch for its new express Leeds-Manchester Cityzap express route.

It follows the success of Transdev’s debut Leeds-York Cityzap route, which carried 250,000 passengers in its first 12 months.

The stunning backdrop of The Tetley centre for contemporary art and learning in Leeds provided the venue for a Guy Fawkes Night-themed celebration, under the title ‘Pride of the North’ – reflecting its major investment.

From left to right: Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North; Alison Pilling, Transport for the North;
Alison Chew, Transport for Greater Manchester; Eric Firth, West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Dave Pearson, West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Tim Wilbor, Team Leader 36, Transdev; Allan Gilmour, Coastliner leading driver, Transdev; Marco Smith, Cityzap driver, Transdev; Alex Hornby, CEO Transdev Blazefield

The new route, which started on Sunday (6 November), is Transdev’s third inter-urban service into Manchester, alongside the Witchway, from Skipton and Burnley, and Red Express from Blackburn. It uses four luxury buses, refurbished by Thorntons.

So far this year Transdev has launched 12 new and revitalised brands, with 44 new buses in a £6.82m investment - part of its five-year £7.1m vision

Also the event offered a teaser for the re-launch of the Witchway in 2018. Meanwhile, the pioneering Leeds-Harrogate route 36 - which in 2003 introduced hi-spec buses to the UK - has been upgraded to run every 10 minutes, adding another three luxury ‘deckers.

Attendees included Dave Pearson, Director of Transport Services at West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Alison Chew, Interim Head of Bus Services at Transport for Greater Manchester; and Peter Molyneux, Strategic Road Network Director at Transport for the North.

Says Mr Pearson: “We’re hearing lots about the government’s Northern Powerhouse, which for the most part is focussing on investing in rail. How do we connect Leeds and Manchester, with more and better options? Cityzap is here now, not in 2025 – we’re already doing it today.”

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby says: “Our second Cityzap route, fulfils our vision to improve city-to-city connections across the north.

“We created Cityzap after research showed people’s view of bus travel suffered due to the perception that even though buses linked major cities, the number of stops served along the route made it difficult for the bus to compete effectively against the car and the train.”

“But for us, this is just the beginning – we want to create a desire to travel, with people wanting to be seen travelling on our buses.

“Earlier this year we set out our five year vision for the North, and committed to invest £7.1 million in dozens of new and revitalised buses – an ambitious programme filled with new ideas to create a complete upgrade in the quality of service for thousands of customers every day.

“In Harrogate, we’ll begin introducing a 100% electric, zero emissions bus fleet in 2018, powered by opportunity charging – a first in the UK.  And in York, we are converting six City Sightseeing open top buses to 100% electric power, creating the UK’s first fully zero emissions sightseeing service.

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