It may not do much to dispel Harrogate’s ‘posh’ image but passengers on the iconic number 36 are hailing it Britain’s most luxurious bus service since a multi-million pound upgrade was launched earlier this week.
This highly popular bus route from Ripon-Harrogate-Leeds has been known for being a bit on the swish side ever since it became the UK’s first leather seated twin-deck bus back in 2003.
Pioneering bus company Transdev’s flagship 36 has been freshened up a few times since then already.
But the latest £3.3m investment which involves 14 brand new buses, a new look and new times may be its finest moment yet.
Regular passengers who, like myself, boarded this king of buses this week could be forgiven for assuming they’d just stepped into a VIP nightclub.
Either that or they were in the first class section of a British Airway’s Dreamliner.
As well as new decor - plush colour-coded livery, sophisticated lighting and fabulous-looking floor - this rock star of buses is full of practical improvements.
Quilted leather seats, free superfast wifi, USB power points at seated tables.
There’s even a small library for people can leave or swap books and, oh yes, the upstairs cabin has a glazed panoramic roof for ‘star gazing’.
Transdev chief executive , Alex Hornby, said: “We’re absolutely overwhelmed with the feedback and the buzz that the new 36 buses are creating.
“We knew the buses were something special and we’re delighted that our customers seem just as proud of the service as we are.
“The 36 has been hailed as ‘the finest bus route in the country’, suitably fitting as Harrogate itself is one of the finest towns in Britain.”
Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate & Knaresborough and a junior minister for transport, said: “I am so pleased to see Transdev makeing such a remarkable investment in local public transport. This spectacular 36 fleet is exactly the kind of thing that will encourage greater bus usage.”
The new buses went into service on Monday, running up to every 15 minutes between Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds, seven days a week.
In a bid to improve the service further and capitalise on Leeds’ booming nightlife, Transdev has also added new faster journeys and new night buses.
Passengers can now return from Leeds on Fridays and Saturday as late - or early - as 3.15am while anyone wishing to travel from Harrogate to Leeds can now do so until 12.15am.