A FLAGSHIP bus service is relaunching its whole fleet of vehicles after a £1m redesign based on ideas given by passengers.
Transdev Harrogate and District officially launched the new number 36 - dubbed “the people’s bus” - at Harewood House, one of the tourism destinations along its route.
After looking at the range of buses available and deciding none met their needs, the company fitted one of its buses with new seats, layouts and equipment and asked passengers to give their views.
Transdev marketing director Nigel Eggleton said: “It was a really important consultation for us and what people told us had a big effect on our thinking.
“In the end we decided it was better for us to create our own bus design incorporating all the ideas that proved a success with the passengers.”
With the results in hand, Transdev decided to rebuild the entire fleet of 14 buses, fitting new engines, gearboxes, rear axles, a new heating system and completely refurbished interiors, as well as reducing the number of seats to offer more space to travellers and even single seats on the top deck for people who prefer to sit alone.
Mr Eggleton said: “Rebuilding the buses isn’t a cheap option. We have spent £80,000 on each vehicle - that’s nearly half the cost of a brand new bus. “However, we know that when we have done the work, the buses will be like new and more importantly they will be exactly what we and our passengers want.”
The project has drawn praise from Coun Don Mackenzie, leader of Harrogate Borough Council.
He said: “This is yet another superb development of the 36, which is regarded as one of the finest bus services in the country.
“The residents in the area are fortunate indeed to see money being spent to make their travelling lives quicker and more comfortable.”
The fleet is being upgraded over the coming weeks and the buses will be re-introduced to the route between Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds as they are ready.
Four replacement buses will be drafted in to be used while others are in the workshop, undergoing their transformation.
“Even those replacement buses are eye catching,” Mr Eggleton said.
“The buses have cartoon characters of engineers creating the new look buses and a preview of the work that’s going on.”
Work to upgrade the fleet is expected to be completed by September.