A West Yorkshire bus operator has revealed more improvements to one of is most popular bus services, after more services and lower fares delivered double-digit increases in passenger numbers on its Aireline route through Shipley, Thackley and parts of West Leeds.
Working in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, The Keighley Bus Company announced last September that it had secured Combined Authority support worth £2.7 million over three years to deliver improvements aimed at attracting more people to choose the bus, and cut congestion and pollution.
The funding deal enabled The Keighley Bus Company to run more buses on three of its most popular routes – along with a brand-new route 60A to increase weekday journeys between Shipley and Leeds from the previous two to three buses an hour, while replacing parts of the 508 route withdrawn by operator First last April.
The bus firm now says its Aireline route is now attracting 28% more customers compared with prior to September 2023’s improvements, with over 350 more passengers per week boarding its buses on the new sections of route served by the 60A.
From 17 March, Keighley Bus Company will add an extra weekday morning bus service to arrive in Leeds before 9am, and an extra bus in the late afternoon, boosting evening peak departures from Leeds City Bus Station to every 15 minutes.
The Keighley Bus Company’s Commercial Director, Paul Turner, said: “Our Aireline customers can look forward to twice as many peak-time buses compared with the timetable in place before last September’s improvements.
“We’re delighted to see significant improvements for our customers, supported by the Combined Authority through Bus Service Improvement Plan funding, are proving so popular with more people in Shipley, Thackley and Calverley switching to our buses.
“The success of our additional services is an excellent example of partnership working between bus operators, local transport authorities and Government to make bus travel attractive for many more people.”
The bus goes through Calverley, parts of Farsley, Rodley, Kirkstall and Burley, before arriving in Leeds city centre, and vice versa.
The move was welcomed by Calverley & Farsley Councillor Peter Carlill (Lab), who said: “The increase in passenger numbers on this route has been a fantastic success, and it shows that people will use buses when you get services right.”
Cllr Carlill, who is also deputy chair of the Combined Authority’s transport committee, added: “Following the rerouting of the 508 service – which took it away from many passengers in Farsley, including myself who used it regularly – I spoke to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Transdev as another nearby operator around a possible replacement.
“This led to the creation of the 60a service, funded by Tracy Brabin, which does try to replace some of the lost connections, but also provides a direct bus link from Calverley to Farsley.
“This new route and enhanced frequencies have been so successful that I have had concerns from passengers about overcrowding on services and full buses. In response to this Transdev intend to put on extra buses at peak time to meet the demand. They also intend to continue the 60a service all the way to Keighley, rather than stopping at Shipley.”
Cllr Carlill said that the Combined Authority’s initial funding has stimulated Keighley Bus Company to invest further in the service. He added: “All of this is at the operators expense, showing that the initial investment by the Mayor into the route has been a real success, provided better bus connections and has increased passenger numbers.
“Further rounds of funding from the Mayor’s Bus Service Improvement Plan are still to be identified and I will be looking at other routes in the area that could benefit from investment.”
Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin added: “Making bus travel more convenient, reliable and affordable is a key part of my vision for a better-connected West Yorkshire. Our funding has given these buses a real boost, showing that investment into the network delivers results. I hope to see results like these replicated across the region.”
Full details of all The Keighley Bus Company’s routes and fare deals are available online, in printed timetables from the Metro Travel Centre at Leeds City Bus Station, and via the free to download ‘Transdev Go’ mobile app.