First patronage rises in Greater Manchester and West Yorks
First has recently experienced significant growth in passenger numbers across its Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire networks. Compared to the same period last year, it is now carrying an extra 150,000 customers a week in Greater Manchester, an 8% growth. Over the last 12 months, the company has introduced a range of service improvements, which it claims has driven up satisfaction levels and attracted more customers. In April, it reduced fares by up to 28% and 150 fresh buses have been introduced in the area in the last 12 months. First is now planning to build on this success into 2014 with a continued focus on service reliability and further investment in services. This includes over £1m in the roll out of wi-fi across Manchester and the introduction of GPS vehicle tracking technology to provide customers with real time bus running information. It will also be making efforts to improve the punctuality of bus timetables.
In West Yorkshire, an extra 100,000 customers a week are boarding First buses, compared to the same period last year, a 5% growth. As in Manchester, the operator attributes the improvement to a range of service improvements it has made in the area over the last 12 months. The enhancements include more punctual services, lower fares and investment in new buses delivering the latest in customer comfort.
Regional MD for First in West Yorkshire, Dave Alexander, said, ‘I am delighted that we have seen this impressive 5% customer growth on our buses in West Yorkshire. Over the last 18 months we have invested heavily in improving our service delivery standards with new vehicles and the transformation of our business across the region. We have more to do but the feedback from customers confirms that we are making good progress. This has given us the confidence to introduce fares reductions to address local affordability issues and further improve value for money. All these improvements and our further investment plans are delivering better services for our customers and helps us to attract new customers from other modes of transport such as the car.’
(LtoR) Cllr Chair of TfGM Committee, Andrew Fender; Dave Alexander and Chair of TfGM Bus Committee, Cllr Mark Aldred.