A BUS firm is building on the success of its Aireline service by introducing more improvements.

Keighley Bus Company relaunched its service linking Keighley, Saltaire and Shipley with Leeds, in October 2017 with a new fleet of buses from Yorkshire-based manufacturer Optare – and a brand new name, Aireline, to reflect its route which follows the River Aire along much of its journey.

Since then, customer numbers have continued to rise, with an impressive seven per cent year on year increase in 2019 versus the previous year. The final four months of 2019 also saw numbers using the Aireline buses up by four per cent compared with 2018.

The Keighley Bus Company is now implementing a package of improvements to cater for rising demand, while working in partnership with local authorities along the route to deliver further customer growth. These include:

• More seats from Leeds – extra Monday to Friday rush-hour trips offering a bus every 20 minutes from Leeds which were launched in September 2019 and an additional double deck bus with 25 more seats than the usual buses was brought in to add more capacity on the 4.35pm and 4.55pm departures from Leeds.

• More seats for Shipley – From February 2020 an additional double deck bus with 25 more seats than the usual buses has been brought in to provide more space for morning commuters on the 7.31am bus from Shipley, arriving at Leeds City Bus Station at 8.55am. There’s also an extra double deck bus on the 3.55pm departure from Leeds, arriving in Shipley at 5.09pm.

• More capacity to come – revitalised double deck buses will be used on the busiest Aireline journeys from this summer with all the amazing features which have made the usual single-deck buses so popular with customers.

• Buses that meet cleaner air standards – all Aireline buses are to be upgraded this Spring to meet the latest clean air standards and further reduce emissions, protecting the local environment.

• Planning now for more growth – The Keighley Bus Company is working with partners to understand how major employers moving to Leeds, such as HMRC, will offer more opportunities to boost bus services and cut pollution and congestion on the roads.

The Keighley Bus Company’s General Manager Alan Isherwood said: “We’re delighted to announce our plans to build on the amazing success of Aireline, which has really taken off since we introduced our Yorkshire-built buses filled with features suggested by those who know best – the people who travel with us every day for work or leisure.

“We’re also expecting a new layout at the junction of New Line and Harrogate Road in Greengates to help speed up journey times as our buses will no longer be held up by turning traffic on the junction. Work to build the new junction may lead to some short term delays this year, and to make sure the service is as resilient as possible we’ll run an extra bus on Aireline to help keep the service on time.”

News of the further improvements to Aireline is being welcomed by Councillor Kim Groves, Chair of both West Yorkshire’s Combined Authority and its Bus Alliance. Councillor Groves said: “The success of these services shows that putting passengers’ requirements at the heart of plans pays off and attracts new customers, and with every bus able to remove 75 or more cars from our roads, the more people using them means delays and pollution caused by congestion are reduced.

“These improvements, combined with improved infrastructure schemes such as at New Line and Harrogate Road which we are investing in through the West Yorkshire-Plus Transport Fund, are helping us achieve our shared targets of increasing bus patronage and combating climate change.”

Meanwhile Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Regeneration, Planning and Transport Portfolio Holder at City of Bradford Metropolitan Council, said: “It’s very encouraging to see the increasing number of people from Keighley and Shipley using the Aireline buses.

"Every bus journey helps to reduce carbon emissions and congestion on our roads, and the further investment to increase capacity on the service can only be good news for our district. We’re doing our bit by investing in our transport network, such as the Harrogate Road and New Line junction, to reduce congestion, which makes bus services like these faster and more reliable.

“Access to high quality bus services is a key part of our shared aspiration for Bradford district and West Yorkshire as a whole, to make our communities safer, healthier and more sustainable for all.”