Sunday 9 September 2012

Super Six Squared [2]

Getting Better all the Time
The distinctive branding on route 36 from Ripon via Harrogate to Leeds appeared in the early 1990s and thus began the development of a traditional inter-urban route into something quite spectacular. The public transport world was astounded when Blazefield Holdings (owners of Harrogate and District) annouced an order for new buses for the 36.

The headline was that they would have leather seats on the top deck!
In 2004 £2.25million was spent on 12 eye-catching twin-deck buses for the prestigious Route 36 linking Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds. Considered revolutionary within the industry at the time, the spacious leather-seated buses in their distinctive black and chrome livery and a frequency increase from every 30 to every 20 minutes ensured that customer numbers rose by over 20% and saw the route win the Marketing Award for Bus Operators at the 2004 ‘Bus Industry Awards’.

And the buses themselves looked stunning ...

Combined with special weekly fares offers, the service began to attract commuters from Harrogate to Leeds. Leather-seated comfort and a smooth well-driven ride appeared superior to being rattled along on a Northern Trains Pacer.
Originally fitted with bus seats ...
... but later refurbished, slightly!

The journey was only a few minuted longer by bus and passenger numbers just kept growing. The ride on the op deck of the now-named "twin-deck" vehicles was so much more attractive. Shopping trips filled seats on off peak journeys and the 20 minute frequency made casual journeys simple.

And it gets better! This from Harrogate and Didstrict's web site today:-

Travel from Ripon via Harrogate to Leeds in comfort and style on board our distinctive twin deck vehicles.

Buses on this route boast leather seats on both decks, all high back with ample leg room. For your comfort and safety there are tinted windows to absorb glare, bright interior lighting for reading or working, upper and lower deck CCTV cameras with recording equipment. To make your journey as easy as possible buses offer a designated area to accommodate buggies, low entrances that kneel to kerb height for easy access, and a designated area for a wheelchair.

On Mondays to Fridays for most of the day 36 runs every 15 minutes between Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds, in both directions. Between Harrogate and Leeds in the morning peak, and between Leeds and Harrogate in the afternoon peak, the frequency is enhanced up to every 10 minutes. On Saturdays journeys run every 15 minutes for most of the day. On Sundays and Bank Holidays the service runs every 30 minutes for most of the day.

Meanwhile some jolly Yorkshire folk are proposing to electrify the Harrogate line, add extra stations (click on the graphic to enlarge) ...
... and use redundant District Line "D" stock. Smart move, chaps.
fbb wonders whether any of these campaigners have travelled regularly on the "D" stock? Comfy it isn't! Toilets it hasn't! Draughts it has!
H&D, get ready to go up to every 5 mins at peak times if that happens!

Have a dekko at H&D's web site (here).
Watch out for a Blog on Harrogate's forgotten railway terminus.
 Next Bus Blog : Monday 10th September 


  1. The Metropolitan Line D Stock was built 100 years ago and has long since disappeared. The suggestion related , I think, to District Line D Stock which was built in 1980 and is therefore coming up to retirement.
    As fbb will know there has been a tradition of Underground stock being used to save railways from dying.

  2. Daddysgadgets thanks. I have never really got to gris with London's underground stock system. 1930 stock, I believe wasn't in use until some time after 1938! I have corrected the above.

  3. Some of the Pacers retain bus seats. It depends on which owners have had their hands on each unit in the past, Northern having inherited them from several sources. Refurbishment varied from company to company - for example, high back seats (with no view for the passenger) seem to indicate ones that once ran on services from Merseyside and wore a yellow livery at the time.

  4. While it would be nice to think that the 36 will just keep on getting better and better, I can't help feeling that West Yorkshire ITA's plans for a Quality Contract scheme do not bode well for it. Kieran Preston, the DG of the ITA has stated that QCs would offer "simplified integrated ticketing; the ability to promote and market a stable, integrated network with consistent standards; and the ability to redeploy somne buses to enhance accessibility rather than duplicate services."
    The final item would seem key to any QC scheme being affordable, but as far as I know West Yorkshire is not a hot-bed of competitive activity where the removal of head-to-head competition would immediately yield savings.

    So just what are these "duplicated services" where buses could be redeployed to improve accessibility elsewhere ? I have a dreadful feeling that the 36, which competes with the rail service between Harrogate and Leeds, and follows the route of frequent First Leeds 2 from Moortown Corner into Leeds might come into this category of 'wasteful competition' and so face a very different future from the recent past. Cut back to Moortown Corner, perhaps ?

    Or am I just being paranoid ?

  5. The difference between the 36 and everything else from Moortown Corner is that from there the 36 is limited stop.

    It only picks up at two more stops at Stainburn Parade and the Queen's Arms. After that it is drop off only and even then it is only a few stops, not all of them.

    Coming out of town it picks up only at the same few stops and doesn't drop off until the Queen's Arms.

    So its not really in competition with anything else as its more of an express run into and out of town.