It’s valued at £4mil and it’s aimed at making bus travel in York more attractive. It’s also targeting delays for bus services in the city, with its notoriously narrow streets. It’s a package bid under the government’s Better Bus Area Fund and, if successful, will include a York version of an oyster card. A paper-based inter-available transfer ticket is apparently in the wings.
Except York has already had one go at making transport more attractive and that included capital funding to ease buses through the city’s narrow streets. It was called FTR but the public didn’t warm to these wider artics and the newer council administration wants to see the back of it.
Indeed, First in York has already committed to axing FTR and its 42-seat Wrightbus Streetcars. This is a decision taken by First on economic grounds though it states it is mindful of York council’s views. The replacements seem to be double decks. On the current FTR 4 service from Acomb to University, these will almost double seating capacity per vehicle and you have to wonder whether this will result in a cost-cutting reduction in frequency. Otherwise, why not a straight swap for 40-seat single decks? Ah, they may actually be less manoeuvrable, with longer wheelbases and rear overhangs.
First states that the withdrawn FTRs will be refurbished before finding their way on to another service somewhere in the north. First is tight-lipped about exactly where and it’s little wonder. The eventual home may be just as “welcoming” as was York. Unless First has yet to make a home for them at all.
Does anyone have any suggestions for where the Streetcars might end up?
If my memory serves, First had committed to 100 Streetcars in total. The services got no further than pioneering York plus Leeds and Swansea. We’re unlikely to find any new FTRs on stream and it will prove difficult enough for First to use the ones it already has.
Oh, and one other thought. The Competition Commission report majors on inter-availability of ticketing but how will this actually work in practice? A York-wide ticket will always be more expensive than a single operator First York offering.