Bus drivers have voted two to one against striking over pay and conditions after they were balloted by their union.

Bradford faced a one-day strike today if 400 members of the Transport and General Workers' Union had chosen to reject an improved offer put to them by bus company First Bradford.

Drivers voted 221 in favour of accepting the new deal, which both sides have kept secret, with 101 rejecting the offer.

It is understood a two-year wage settlement was agreed with a below inflation three per cent this year and the rate of inflation for the following year. The drivers had wanted an overall inflation-matched rise.

Agreement is also believed to have been reached on the removal of fare boxes - where the public have to pay the exact amount to the driver - over a phased period.

The crews would get a £200 goodwill gesture from the management, a source said today. He added that many people were "very unhappy" about the settlement but did not want a strike.

It is understood the company agreed to look at a request by crews for re-timing of journeys taking into account the extra time in collecting fares with the removal of the boxes.

The end of the dispute marks nearly a month of heated negotiations between management and the drivers over pay and conditions.

A one-day strike was called off at the 11th hour at the end of July after a dispute over the introduction of five new Sovereign Service routes without consultations and the removal of fare boxes on those routes.

First Bradford's operations director Khadim Hussain said: "I am pleased the dispute has now ended and we can concentrate on providing high standards of bus travel in Bradford."

But Bradford's TGWU branch secretary Mohammd Taj was not so convinced by the result.

He said: "A very lengthy and bitter bus strike has been avoided by only the narrowest of margins and it has raised issues of real public concern.

"There were over 100 drivers who were prepared to go on strike over pay and conditions and that cannot be ignored."

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