York & North Yorkshire

Harrogate to Wetherby bus war breaks out

A bus war has broken out on a route between Wetherby and Harrogate with services now running every few minutes as two companies vie for custom.

Buses operated by Transdev used to run half-hourly until April when competitor Connexions decided to run services a few minutes ahead of them.

Since then tit-for-tat timetable changes mean there are as many as three buses turning up within six minutes.

Transport chiefs and bus users fear the situation is becoming unsustainable.

Can it last?

Richard Owens, assistant director of public transport for North Yorkshire County Council, said: "At the end of the day the critical question is do members of the public get a good service?

"Now, at the moment, they're getting a great service. They had an hourly bus service, they now have something like five journeys an hour to choose from, but you have to question how long that is going to last."

The Competition Commission said it was aware of the situation in Wetherby and Harrogate and was looking into it as part of a wider national investigation into bus services.

Nigel Eggleton, marketing director at Transdev, said: "If they run directly in front of one of our vehicles there is a reason for that and we are going to react to it.

"Inevitably it caused us to review what we're going to do about it to protect that service for our customers and our staff."

Craig Temple, managing director of Connexions, said: "It is all a bit silly really. It's something they hadn't thought of until we did, which is a shame really.

"It takes a small company to see opportunities and the big company copies."

Bus user Tom Howley, who has travelled on the route regularly for the past 25 years, said: "I just can't see any sense or logic in it at all.

"I can't see why there should be three buses leaving Wetherby for Harrogate in a six-minute period.

"There are going to be consequences because obviously it can't carry on."

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