BUS bosses are making the most of a growing commuter frustration at Harrogate’s infamous “sardine specials”.
As revealed in the Harrogate Advertiser in 2008, peak time trains from Harrogate to Leeds had more than two passengers for every seat.
Frustrated commuters branded this a “sardine special” as hundreds were forced to stand for the 20-minute journey.
Now, bus bosses are cashing in as commuters continue to turn to Transdev’s 36 bus to travel from Ripon and Harrogate to Leeds every day.
The bus company has seen its passenger numbers increase by 50 per cent in the past five years and is now upping its service to once every 15 minutes to meet demand.
Marketing director Nigel Eggleton said: “Increasing the frequency means we have added an extra 20,000 seats a month on the route.
“We’ve seen a remarkable growth in passenger numbers on the number 36 over the past few years.
“It’s a classic example of how modern comfortable buses with bright attractive interiors can encourage new passengers and tempt people to leave their cars at home.”
Transdev said it sees a wide cross-section of passengers every day, from commuters to shoppers and people using the route for a day out.
But its peak time buses between Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds are the busiest with hundreds of people using the service to get to work and back.
Mr Eggleton said he believes the sharp rise in passenger numbers could be down to a number of innovations introduced in recent years, from satellite tracking to an iPhone app and a sleeker design.
“Recently transport action groups have been pressing for more capacity on the rail route between Harrogate and Leeds,” he said.
“We’re not in direct competition with the trains but during the day a journey from Harrogate to Leeds can take just 45 minutes and if your bus stop and the destination are well placed the door-to-door journey can be quicker on the number 36.
“The extra journeys and seats aren’t the end of things as we’ll be unveiling more exciting plans for the route in the next month or so.”
Buses back and forth to Leeds from Harrogate and Ripon will now run every 15 minutes instead of every 20, from Monday to Saturday.