Electric bus award nomination for York service

 Electric bus on chargeCity of York Council along with partners First York and Optare have been shortlisted for an award at the prestigious UK Bus Awards.

The nomination is for the Environment category and notes the work that the council, First York and Optare have completed by creating and running a fully electric Park&Ride service from the newly built site at Poppleton, which was opened in June 2014.


York shortlisted in the Low Carbon Champions awards


City of York Council, First York Buses and Optare have been shortlisted in the Vehicle Operator category for the 2015 Low Carbon Champions awards.

The council, in partnership with First Bus York and bus manufacturer, Optare have been nominated after creating two fully electric Park&Ride routes.

New electric bus fleet

New electric bus fleet

A fleet of six buses were first introduced in June 2014 at the new Poppleton Bar Park&Ride site. This was then extended to include Monks Cross Park&Ride in May 2015.

The electric buses are helping to reduce CO2 emissions by 62 percent in real world operation according to First Bus data. The most recent data shows that when operating in service on York’s Park&Ride routes, the ‘Well to Wheel’ efficiency is 409g/km of Carbon emitted compared to a standard diesel Park&Ride bus at 1078g/km.

Cllr Ian Gillies, Executive Member for Transport and Planning, said: “I am delighted that the work that the council is carrying out in partnership with First York Buses and Optare is being recognised on a national scale. I hope we will be able to continue to build on this and help make York an even more sustainable city.”

Ben Gilligan, Managing Director of First York added, “We’re thrilled to be short-listed for a Low Carbon Champion Award which is recognition of the really positive impact of the electric vehicles in York. By working in partnership with City of York Council and Optare we’ve been able to provide a better environment for residents as well as continuing to deliver high quality, great value services.”

Enrico Vassallo, CEO, Optare, said, “I am delighted that our electric bus technology has been recognized and shortlisted for this prestigious industry award.  We continue to work with the LowCVP, DfT, SMMT, TfL, operators like First York and local authorities, such as the City of York Council to promote the uptake of electric vehicle technology and ensure sustained successful operation of these vehicles, whilst gaining data for the continued development of electric vehicles.”

The Carbon savings achieved through the operation of these buses complement the improvements in air quality delivered over and above Diesel bus operation, with harmful Particulate and Nitrogen Dioxide emissions reduced to zero.

The Low Carbon Champions Awards help to identify and promote examples of outstanding and innovative practice in accelerating the shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and reducing road transport emissions.

For more information on the Low Carbon Champions Awards, which are taking place on 9 September visit http://www.lowcvp.org.uk/news,shortlist-for-2015-low-carbon-champions-awards-reflects-innovation-in-green-transport_3302.htm

New contract for real time bus information in York


Tenders for a new real time bus information system are currently being evaluated. A new contract, which replaces one last let in 2002, is being managed through the “West Yorkshire Combined Authority”.

Tenders were invited last year and evaluation is currently underway.

The contract provides real time information at bus stops. It is linked to (most) buses which operate in York. The information also feeds into (generally good) mobile phone apps 

The 2002 contract was worth around £400,000. When it expired in 2012, the York Council decided to pay £60,000 a year to continue to maintain the old system.

Although systems like these are also capable of providing weekly or monthly reliability statistics, the old Labour run authority refused to publicise this data.

The only guide to reliability in the City comes from an annual single day sample published by the Department of Transport. The last reported figure suggested that 80% of buses were running “on time”

The new Council has yet to announce its policy on the provision of public transport reliability and quality information.

Public transport users in York will not benefit from fuel price reductions

The media is reporting that First buses do not intend to reduce fares to reflect the 20% reduction seen in diesel costs.

Fuel price graph Aug 2015

Pump prices have fallen from a high of 150 pence per litre to just 112 ppl in York this week. The downward trend in diesel prices has been significant and sustained since First last increased their prices.

In some cases such as  season tickets prices will actually increase.

The decision mirrors that of the taxi trade which declined to pass on the benefits of lower fuel prices to customers earlier in the year.

Yesterday the government announced that regulated rail fares would increase by 1% in January. A study has suggested that regulated fare prices jumped 25% between 2010 and 2015, while average pay rose 9% over the same period.

Unfortunately there is currently no independent organisation in York lobbying on behalf of public transport users. The Council’s scrutiny committee pointedly ignores the subject of public transport costs and punctuality.


Reports are coming in that the Council may continue the 13A bus service after First stop running it at the end of July.

Save our 13A bus service

This would allow time for a full review of subsidised bus routes during the autumn by the new Council Executive.

Westfield LibDem Councillors  had passed on residents concern about the threatened axing of this route to First and to the Council.

Options for continuing the service to this area might include re-routing other subsidised services. This would avoid passengers – many of whom are elderly –  having to walk long distances.

It is anticipated that the re-introduction of two way routes along Tudor Road and Green Lane would also form part of any service review.

At the moment the number 4 bus service only travels clockwise round the Green Lane/Tudor Road loop.

The decision on the 13A was taken behind closed doors with no pre-meeting agenda or background papers published. The new Council will rapidly lose credibility if it doesn’t become more open and shed the mistakes of the past …..and quickly.

Set back for electric buses in York?

There are calls for electric buses to be removed from  York roads until the cause of today’s fire in one of the vehicles has been traced.

The affected vehicles only joined Firsts fleet a short time ago but any incident like this is likely to dent passengers confidence.

York Press:

The fire occurred in the Hungate area. At one point there was a small explosion. Firefighters were initially hindered by high electric currents in the vehicle

The bus driver has been praised for promptly ensuring that his passengers evacuated the vehicle. There were no reported injuries.

Monks Cross Park&Ride gets new fleet of electric buses

P & R Electric buses May 2015

The UK’s top Park&Ride (P&R) service is further expanding its offer to customers by introducing a new fully electric fleet of buses at Monks Cross Park&Ride.

In partnership with First who operate the site, the introduction of six new electric buses this month follows on from the success of the introduction of a fully electric fleet onto the new Poppleton Park&Ride last June.

New threat to Foxwood and Chapelfields bus services?

Now First start consultation on “low usage” bus services

Just a few weeks after the York Council withdrew its threat to withdraw subsidies from bus services like the number 12, it seems that First themselves are now planning cuts.

On the buses

Their web site says

“We’re undertaking some face-to-face consultation events and running an online survey to seek your views on services operating in the South West of York covering Acomb to Copmanthorpe as well as Haxby in the North.

Some services operating in these areas are experiencing low levels of usage which we’d like to address, to ensure that our buses go to the right places and that the levels of service meets the demand.

Our survey asks for feedback on your travel choices made within your area as well as ways to improve or amend our existing services.

It’s hoped that this feedback will assist in the development of the network to improve usage and long term viability of these services.

Come and meet us face-to-face at these events:

  • Thursday 12 February 1000-1300 Explore Acomb Library Learning Centre
  • Thursday 12 February1400-1600 Copmanthorpe Youth Club, School Lane
  • Friday 13 February 1430-1730 Snow Room G035, City of York Council Offices
  • Tuesday 24 February 1230-1530 Haxby & Wigginton Methodist Church Hall

If you’re not able to see us at one of these events, we still want your views – please let us know what you think by completing our online survey which is open until Saturday 28 February”.

The main concerns relate to possible reductions in the frequency of the number 1 service which serves Chapelfields and the number 12 service which provides a link for Foxwood and Woodthorpe. The future of the popular number 4 service is also understood to be under review.

We hope that First will provide quickly much more detail on what they regard as “low usage” services, and also state precisely what changes they are thinking of making!