A dozen best practice initiatives from Transdev Blazefield in Harrogate.

Saturday 12th March 2022

I was in Harrogate last week. You can’t help but notice the bus service operated by Transdev Blazefield in the town exudes quality. Harrogate Bus Company is definitely in the bus industry’s Premier League.

It’s not that all the initiatives highlighted below are revolutionary; indeed some are small fry in the grand scheme of things (eg printed timetable leaflets on display 24/7 in the bus station), but when they’re all put together they add up to an impressive offering that conveys a clear message – ‘we care about the presentation of our bus services and really welcome your custom’. No wonder passengers respond appropriately.

If only every other bus company around the country would follow this lead. It really would make a huge difference to the standing of the bus industry.

1 Paper timetables on display 24/7 in the bus station. And not only for bus routes operated by the Harrogate Bus Company, but also by rivals Connexions as well as timetables for high profile bus routes elsewhere in Yorkshire including Coastliner and CityZap

And, to those on Twitter who spotted there were a couple of gaps in the display and commented; guess what? Within a couple of minutes of taking that photograph, a team member appeared from inside the kiosk and filled the rack up.

2 Bus stop signs that are branded to fit in with branding used by the bus route/s using them….

…. and which also follows through to buses on the route and timetable and marketing literature.

3 Bus stop timetables/departure lists (including journey times) that show a helpful route map with bus stop locations.

4 A bus station with plants and flowers making for a pleasant place to wait for a bus.

5 A highly visible cleaning regime ensuring ‘touch points’ are regularly sanitised as buses arrive into the bus station showing it wasn’t just a ‘flash in the pan’ in response to Covid.

6 An informal welcoming message as you board ….

… with friendly messages as you pass into the bus.

7 The famous 2+1 luxury style seating on route 36 putting seats in many modern and new trains to shame.

And original examples have now been cascaded on to local town routes.

8 Well spaced out seats on the town’s electric powered single deck buses giving excellent leg room and plenty of space for bags and shopping.

9 A novel way of dealing with the awkward space over the rear wheel arches, with built in usb and wireless recharging ports on the shelf.

10 Well signed and spacious litter bins offering the option of recycling too.

11 The simple but hugely effective “Departs in x minutes” electronic countdown signs (which even continue to count down in seconds as departure time nears) as well as ….

….. the nice touch of a battery symbol ‘filling up’ as the pantograph gives the batteries a charging boost each time the bus pulls into the bus station.

12 And finally smart looking uplighters in the Volvo electric single deck buses used on local town routes adding to the quality feel.

It’s the little touches like this which when all put together sing out a positive message about bus travel.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu.

Next blog, Sunday 13th March 2022: E is for Evesham.

26 thoughts on “A dozen best practice initiatives from Transdev Blazefield in Harrogate.

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  1. Thank you so much for this – and I do hope that all other bus managers read your blog; helpful commentary by one of the industry’s leading experts! Brilliant Harrogate Bus Company! – a beacon for how to do it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For Harrogate also insert Keighley, Burnley. Blackburn and Rawtenstall. Transdev may not be 100% perfect but they’re the closest to it in UK bus operators IMHO.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A becon on how to do it? Err, let’s start off with unreliable journeys despite many timetable changes to reflect driver shortages. The 36 had a whopping 9 journeys cancelled from Leeds yesterday despite the reduced timetable aiming to stamp this out. Service 1 still saw cancelled buses despite it’s very recent timetable change due to driver shortages! For several months now, Service 36 has been the biggest joke going when it comes to reliability, yesterday mid to late afternoon two missed journeys led to the next being rammed and running late, that ain’t a becon on how to do things is it!

    Then you’ve got the issue of notifications on cancelled journeys only appearing on Twitter, not everyone wishes to sign up to Twitter (I don’t) and the stupid and quite frankly money grabbing American owners of Twitter only let you see so many before telling you to sign up! If the message for your journey appears beyond the first few, you don’t see it. The absolute common sense approach of listing cancelled journeys on the web site, FOR EVERYONE TO BLOODY SEE, should have blazed out like a becon right from the frigging start.

    Don’t you just love it when someone points out how faultless a bus company really is, then is corrected by an actual daily user?


    1. They have now switched from drip-feeding dozens of cancellation notices every day on Twitter to having a single web page for each division that notes all the cancellations that day. It isn’t the easiest to find but regular travellers can bookmark the page, and certainly beats checking the Twitter feed!


    1. In general I agree – but it can be frustrating to see a branded bus go by that you would like to catch, but then have a problem finding which stop to catch it from! So I’m for branded bus stops.


  3. For Harrogate also insert Keighley, Burnley. Blackburn and Rawtenstall. Transdev may not be 100% perfect but they’re the closest to it in UK bus operators IMHO.


  4. Transdev are undoubtedly doing a lot of things very well, especially around the marketing and branding, although I don’t think the operational reality is always quite as rosy as you make out!

    Reliability across their network has been really poor recently, with reduced timetables on the 1ABCD, 36 and 662 coming and going, and large numbers of cancellations every day on both frequent and infrequent services. (What I don’t know is whether Transdev’s reliability is worse than other operators’, or whether they are just more open about it).

    Given the battles that have been raging on several times about Transdev covering up Connexions’ timetables at bus stops, I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to say that they are happy to promote competitors’ services!

    And, just for clarity, the ex-36 bus you saw was a one-off additional acquisition to provide extra capacity. The buses bought for the 36 in 2003 were moved to CityZap in 2015/16 when the new buses came on stream, but they were increasingly knackered (mechanically, if not cosmetically) after a hard life and were breaking down left, right and centre before the new Sky Class buses were delivered at the end of 2020.


  5. It may be little touches that sing out a positive message, but it’s the big things like investment and civic pride that lie at the root of it.
    I’m sure every bus manager would like to follow Transdev’s example in this respect, at least (but, as others have pointed out, looks aren’t everything).
    Still, I think Roger and friends could do a great service by sharing the secret of how to magic investment, and civic pride, out of thin air. After a lifetime of trying some of us still haven’t sussed it yet!


  6. Many of the dedicated bus stops were replaced by NYCC standard ones presumably due to Connexions also using the stop and that photoed is probably under threat given that operators roiute changes in Knaresborough . On the Leeds Road Transdev have added mini 36 and Flyer signs in addition to the NYCC one


  7. They do ooze quality but you pay for it through the nose! About 2 years ago now I got the 36 from Ripon to Harrogate and a single was nearly £8!I think that outside of the Lake District it’s the most expensive per distance bus fare I can remember.Although I thought Hornsea to Beverley on East Yorkshire this January at nearly £7 was pretty steep too.These fares are so bad that if you had 4 or 5 people it’s probably cheaper, and more convenient,to get a taxi.


    1. Sounds cheap compared to many areas where a taxi is cheaper then going by bus if two people are travelling which you may have long walk to the bus stop and an infrequent and unreliable service


    2. For only £10 you can buy a Daytripper on the 36 in Ripon and end up getting off a X43 in central Manchester. Via Leeds, Keighley and Burnley of course. Are there really people other than Andy Burnham travelling on single bus tickets anymore?


      1. Plenty do I think that I have about 7 times this year alone and the only reason people might not is because they have become so expensive that people buy Explorer style tickets ‘just in case’as the might be say a £1 or 50p more.Although I must confess that Ripon to Manchester, and presumably back if it’s doable in a day via Leeds, for £10 isn’t bad….but I was only going to Harrogate so it doesn’t help much in those cases!


  8. This isn’t best practice. Its called doing the basics. Sadly there seems to be a blind spot to Transdev though. They have been atrocious over the last few months at basic nunber 1….getting buses out the yard to make run out.

    No amount of Best Impression magic can solve that one

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There’s no doubt that Transdev are suffering driver shortages at the moment but then so is practically every other medium and large size operator. However that isn’t going to be improved by eliminating printed timetables or not bothering to clean the buses. They still need to promote their services as much as possible in order to get more revenue in so they can improve driver’s pay to aid staff retention.


  10. Re the fares they have a 2 for £13.50 offer for Ripon / Harrogate – Leeds return journeys (after 9.30am) while the Daytripper Group ticket allows up to 5 to travel for £19 anwhere for a day bar Cityzap and Coastliner were it becomes £30. Similarly a single day ticket is £10, £19 including Cityzap and Coastliner. Meant to mention re the stop signs NYCC do not seem to be bothered on the Wetherby Road as Transdevs signs are way out of date dating from the time the 7 was the 770 and 771 for journeys via Thrope Arch .


  11. Just to additionally add Harrogate bus station isn’t a spacious place to wait with plenty of seats and fully enclosed from the elements. Instead, it’s crowded when busy, doesn’t have many seats and is quite open to the elements with only a few panes of glass on the road side to protect from the wind, cold, rain etc. A whole new terminal building could have been built in the middle of the land it’s currently on with bus stands on both sides, a bit like the size of Pontefract, mind you all we’d hear is the amaizing bus station.


  12. Transdev in Yorkshire offers a £1 single anywhere ticket after 7pm. However, as others have mentioned, they have a real problem at the moment with service reliability with too many cancellations, even on high-profile services such as Flyer, Coastliner, City Zap and the 36.


    1. But how many people are traveling after 19hr and how many buses are there.The reason for offering such a cheap fare after 19hr and one 90 percent more expensive before is probably because they know that they won’t lose much money as there’s probably only a few routes running.


  13. The £1 fares are for any distance on the various interurban routes and on local services in Harrogate, Keighley etc. It’s a good offer and buses are often reasonably busy around here in the evenings. Services in West Yorkshire (at least) tend to run until around 11pm. Transdev buses are clean and modern with lots of cctv, so feel very safe. The issue is when they don’t turn up though. It pushes people back to using car or taxi.


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