Leeds bus bosses bid to poach rail passengers

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Canny bus bosses are aiming to cash in on commuter frustration at overcrowding on Yorkshire’s trains.

Bus firm Transdev has upped the frequency of the services on its flagship number 36 route between Leeds, Harrogate and Ripon.

Services now run every 15 minutes through the daytime from Monday to Saturday, creating an extra 20,000 seats per month on the route.

And Transdev thinks its improved timetables could be just the ticket for people unhappy with the infamously-cramped conditions on some of the county’s trains.

The Harrogate-based firm’s marketing director, Nigel Eggleton, said: “We’ve seen a remarkable growth in passenger numbers on the number 36 over the past few years.

“It’s a classic example of how modern comfortable buses with bright attractive interiors can encourage new passengers and tempt people to leave their cars at home.

“Transport action groups have been pressing for more capacity on the rail route between Harrogate and Leeds.

“We’re not in direct competition with the trains but during the day a journey from Harrogate to Leeds can take just 45 minutes and if your bus stop and the destination are well placed the door-to-door journey can be quicker on the number 36.”

Recent research showed that 35 per cent of trains arriving in Leeds during morning rush hour were carrying passengers who had been forced to stand.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond last week announced plans to tackle the problem with the introduction of 20 extra carriages on Northern Rail services from December this year.

They will provide more than 2,000 additional seats each day on lines from Skipton, Ilkley and Doncaster via Wakefield into Leeds as well as the Caldervale route that links Leeds with Bradford and Manchester Victoria.

The capacity increase is among the first fruits of a plan to introduce 650 extra carriages outside London before March 2014.

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