Buses Minister Richard Holden has enjoyed an access-all-areas tour behind the scenes at The Harrogate Bus Company – seeing for himself how hard work behind the scenes kept the spa town on the move following heavy snowfall.
Mr Holden, who was accompanied by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, visited Transdev’s Academy training centre at Starbeck before hopping on a Harrogate Electrics bus to the town’s bus station to meet staff and visit their recently upgraded welfare facilities.
The Minister was welcomed to the bus operator’s headquarters by Operations Director Vitto Pizzuti, Training Manager Dale French and Commercial Manager Matt Burley.
During his tour of the company’s Academy, Mr Holden spoke with trainee drivers about their reasons for choosing to join Transdev’s team, and the process they go through to gain the skills needed for success. The Minister also met younger colleagues starting out in the bus industry, as well as older recruits taking up bus driving as a change of career.
Operations Director Vitto Pizzuti said:
We’re delighted to have welcomed the Buses Minister, who saw for himself the lengths we go to during wintry weather to keep our buses on the road serving our customers.
The Minister was also impressed to learn of the success of our Government-supported £2 Price Drop, which has helped us to attract record numbers of motorists to leave their car keys at home and choose the bus instead.
Fare-paying customer numbers are now at 96 per cent of 2019 levels, and on Friday 3 February we saw our busiest day ever, with 131,000 customers travelling on our network on just one day. We’ve seen numbers travelling on The 36 linking Harrogate with Leeds and Ripon by 11 per cent, as the £2 cap on single fares continues to prove popular.”
Buses Minister Richard Holden said: “Having invested more than £2 billion to support bus services since the pandemic, it’s fantastic to see so many people using the bus here in Harrogate.
“Our £2 bus fare cap is helping to turbocharge the return of passengers, and we will continue to work hard with local authorities and operators like The Harrogate Bus Company to get even more people to hop back onto the bus.
During his visit to Harrogate Bus Station, Mr Holden met duty managers Simon Bolland and Dawn Thompson and was pleased to see high-profile marketing for the £2 fare cap, leading to a significant increase in customer numbers.
The Minister was also briefed on progress towards the introduction of 71 fully electric buses to Yorkshire in a jointly funded programme over the next three years which will see the operator’s entire fleet based in Harrogate replaced by new zero emission electric vehicles.