OPINION: The power of integration in transport is crucial - Alex Hornby, Harrogate Bus Company

Often when we talk about integration in transport, we mean how we interact with other modes to create a seamless journey.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 4:03 pm
260718 Alex Hornby Chief Executive of Transdev with some of the new electric buses to be used around Harrogate on show in the twon yesterday(thurs).

However, for the bus to truly reach its potential in true value and for the benefit of us all in Harrogate (and beyond), we need to consider how it can integrate with the town and borough at large, and all it has to offer.

During the recovery, this is even more pertinent.

Whilst we will continue to seek how best we can be part of an integrated travel package alongside our neighbouring railway, we are also keen that we complement rather than compete with other ‘active travel’ modes such as bike and even scooters. I’d love to see more cycle parking at stops and car parking at stops too (as well as a park and ride, too, of course).

That way, leaving the car at home (even if just now and again) or not bringing it all the way into town and adding to congestion becomes a very feasible option.

We are always encouraged that customer research of users on the 36 shows that 55 per cent of people have access to a car but choose to use the bus.

As evident by our brand - The Harrogate Bus Company - we remain committed to support our town, its people and the great things that happen within it.

Our ‘£1 after 7pm’ fare deal remains, just in time for the launch of the first Harrogate Beer Week. You’ve no excuse to support Harrogate’s fantastic craft beer and pub offer - and the fab Rachel Auty’s vision to give the local industry a boost just when it needs it.

I’ve also just recovered from a whirlwind meeting with Sharon Canavar of Harrogate International Festivals, a more well-established, fabulous enterprise that does so much to preserve and promote the arts and culture of Harrogate.

We have some exciting ideas in store to bring both organisations together, not just front-facing activity but also to provide literacy and educational resource for colleagues behind the scenes.

Car Free Friday - led by Jemima Parker and Zero Carbon Harrogate - is another proud Harrogate initiative we are supporting, and I’m proud to sit on the Climate Change Coalition Board especially as we prepare for Harrogate’s Climate Action Festival and other environmental events this October.

This all supports our forthcoming proposals to fully convert our fleet to zero-emission electric in the coming years.

And that’s not to mention the schools, colleges and employers who we serve, and liaise with almost daily, to provide the best service we can to help get people where they need to be.

But it remains our local people that integrate us best with the town. We know it is often our drivers and teams at the bus station that provide the true face of the company.

During the pandemic, they worked through and were the ultimate public servants. To some, they can be the only person that a customer may engage with all day.

That’s why we’re more than a bus company and why we truly value being integrated with a town we are so proud to serve.