An open letter from the MD
Buses continue to be a vital part of our city’s infrastructure. They link our communities and connect people to work, school, medical facilities & leisure activities, so are regularly in the news. As head of a team of nearly 300 colleagues at First York, I would like to provide our customers with an update on both current issues and what we can look forward to in the coming months.
Our customers tell us that punctual and reliable services are crucial to journey satisfaction. Over the last 3 years we have made significant progress in improving both reliability & punctuality of our services. We have done this through our partnership with City of York Council and using a more and more data led approach as opposed more traditional ways of scheduling our buses. I recognise that as we use advanced technology to do this, teething problems will occur and this has certainly been the case with the most recent timetable change. Some of our services have been negatively affected as a result, particularly services 1, 6 and 12 which have suffered reliability issues during the peak hours. We are putting this right by making a further change to our timetables on the 1st of December. In addition to improving punctuality, we are also adding later journeys and reintroducing standard departure times for our evening and night services. At that point, the current timetable and real time information problems affecting service 12 will also be fixed and the various roadworks causing longer journey times are due to have finished.
I would like to apologise to customers who have faced delays as a result of the recent changes – we’re focussing hard on getting this right.
Among industry colleagues, stakeholders and customers, a variety of different views exist on the necessity of providing printed timetables. We need to be conscious of the resources used and the sustainability challenge we all face. We also need to consider that many customers have moved into the digital world and continue to do so with high quality information available through options such as on our website and via the First Bus App which is rated as the best bus app on the iOS platform of all the major, national bus operators.
We have reduced the numbers of printed timetables significantly over the last 12 months against a growth of usage of our service in York. This gives me confidence that customers can access information about our services in more sustainable ways. It is however important that those customers who need a physical paper timetable can easily obtain one and we have therefore agreed with City of York Council and Visit York that printed timetables can be obtained on demand from the Bus & Visitor Information Point at York Railway Station or at York Visitor Information Centre on Museum Street.
Finally, when I took up the role in our York business in 2016, my goal was to increase bus usage in York by improving our service offering and reliability. This continues to be my mission and while much progress has been made, the next 6 months will see some of the most significant changes. Following the recent addition of more modern low-emission buses into York, 21 fully electric double deck buses will be added to our fleet to serve customers on the superb Park&Ride network. At the same time, we are removing the oldest vehicles and are upgrading the remainder of the fleet to Euro VI emissions standards to improve the air quality for all of us in this great City of York.