Bus18 Partnership – making things happen across West Yorkshire
Bus18 partners First West Yorkshire, Arriva Yorkshire, Transdev Blazefield and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority announced that over the last 12 months there has been “major progress on bus improvements” across the county. By working together bus companies say they are “making things happen” including technological advancements with the release of the ground-breaking MCard app, a £23.5 million joint investment in new buses, and a package of improvements for young bus passengers.
Bus18 was launched in March 2017 by the three bus companies, the Association of Bus Operators in West Yorkshire and the Combined Authority. The initiative’s three main objectives are to make buses easy to use, to reduce emissions and to improve the customer experience.
The MCard android app, which enables customers to buy their ticket and upload it directly on to their MCard wherever they may be, has trailblazed ticketing technology, and since its launch in August 2017 has proved hugely popular. Over 16,000 multi-operator young people’s tickets are being purchased every month via the app.
Over £1m is also being invested by the Combined Authority to improve congestion hotspots, the programme has already commenced with four of the schemes already completed, including Croft Street to Bowling Back Lane and Whetley Hill to Abbey Road in Bradford, Santingley Lane in New Crofton and Southfield Road in Knottingley. In another 12 months the majority of all schemes should be completed, meaning more passengers will be getting where they need to be on time.
The bus companies have been working hard on improvements in punctuality too, and are introducing a process in order to monitor and publish progress jointly. They have also scrapped the need for an identity pass to be shown in order to obtain half fare travel if pupils are in their school uniform.
Bus company’s leaders Paul Matthews, Managing Director for First West Yorkshire, Alex Hornby CEO for Transdev Blazefield and Jonathan Woodhouse, Head of Operations for Arriva Yorkshire, and Cllr Keith Wakefield Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee came together today to celebrate Bus18’s 1st birthday and mark the achievements of:
- £23.5 million invested in low-emission buses in 2017
- ground-breaking ticketing technology launched in August 2017- the MCard app
- young people’s half fare concessions extended to 18 years of age (one of the first improvements made back in 2016)
- one consistent customer promise for bus passengers across West Yorkshire
- half-fare pass requirement scrapped for pupils in school uniform
- commencement of the £1m bus hotspot delivery programme to tackle congestion hotspots
Paul Matthews, Managing Director for First West Yorkshire said: “We’re proud to be part of the Bus18 partnership and to share the progress that has been made to improve the customer experience on West Yorkshire bus services. As one of the main pledges is to reduce emissions, one of our main priorities is to introduce lower emission vehicles across West Yorkshire. All of our new vehicles have Euro VI engines, which are not only compliant with the Leeds Low Emission Zone proposal, but also offer significant reductions in the most harmful pollutants, such as Nitrogen Oxide and are in fact 95 per cent cleaner than some of the vehicles that the new buses will replace.
“We’re also continually looking for ways to improve customer satisfaction and to help make buses easier to use and we’re therefore proud to now offer contactless payments across all of our West Yorkshire fleet. Contactless payments mean that customers can switch from paying with cash to using their card, which will make it easier to catch the bus. The switch from cash will also have a huge impact on boarding times; helping in the longer term, to speed up bus journey times.
“We are focussing on improving the customer experience through investment in driver training, new technology and operations – so that we can improve customer satisfaction. We’re investing in a new app for staff so that they can keep updated with the latest news, diversion information and updates from the business. We have also launched “Tell First Bus”, which is an online customer surveying tool where our customers can go to tell us how they feel about their journey. The surveys are anonymous, so we are providing updates via our website and social media channels to inform customers of how we’re using their feedback to improve the customer experience.”
Alex Hornby CEO for Transdev Blazefield, said: “We were all really motivated to make things happen quickly with Bus18 and, together, we are delivering. This is exactly what happens when like-minded organisations, with a clear aim on making buses better for the travelling public, come together to produce actions and demonstrable improvements. All of us at Transdev remain keen to carry on delivering and ensuring the bus becomes a favoured mode of travel across West Yorkshire and beyond.”
Jon Croxford, managing director for Arriva Yorkshire said: “We are proud to be part of the Bus 18 initiative. Along with our partners, one of our key pledges is to make buses easier to use for our customers, which includes a commitment to improve network stability, further enhance ticket options and provide smarter information with more ways to pay. We are 100% committed to enhancing the customer experience and increasing bus usage in the region.”
Cllr Keith Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Chair said: “Buses are a vital part of the local transport network with people using them to make around 180 million journeys each year or 3.5 million bus journeys per week in West Yorkshire.
“Bus18-led measures such as the half fares for pupils in uniform, tackling bus congestion hotspots, investment in cleaner vehicles and the planned affordable go anywhere day ticket for young people, are helping to ensure buses play their full role in underpinning economic growth, investment and job creation.”
They also announced that there were more improvements on their way. The work carried out under Bus18 has been described as ‘just the beginning’, the team’s aim is ‘to set the foundations for a brighter future for bus passengers across the county for years to come’.
To find out more about Bus18 click here.