Arriva UK bus sells West Yorkshire operator to Transdev Blazefield

This Summer, there will be a change of ownership for Yorkshire Tiger. It was announced today [Thursday 15 April 2021] that Arriva UK Bus have decided to sell their Yorkshire Tiger operation to Transdev Blazefield. The sale includes its two depots in Elland and Waterloo and 61 buses.

All but two routes, the 231 and 232, will be transferred to Alex Hornby’s company. These routes between Huddersfield and Wakefield (via Emley Moor) will be part of Arriva Yorkshire. The move will also affect 163 drivers, engineers, cleaners and support staff.

Formed at the tail end of 2013, Yorkshire Tiger made an instant impression by promising a fresh approach to bus operation. At first, this meant Bengali Tiger print moquette and free WiFi on orange low floor buses. Despite some troubles with reliability and punctuality, they kept up the tiger premise with minibuses branded as Calder Cubs on Metro West Yorkshire ITA tendered routes.

As part of Transdev, the approachable and bouncy Tigger-like nature of Yorkshire Tiger will be a good fit for its existing brands. Its location bridges a gap between their operations in the Worth and Irwell valleys (with Keighley and District, and Rosso respectively). Yorkshire Tiger’s existing day rover and season tickets will be integrated into Transdev Blazefield’s offerings.

In Greater Manchester, this will affect the scenic 587 service from Rochdale to Halifax via Ripponden. At present, this route is shared with First Halifax, who run it on weekdays and Saturdays. Its Sunday and Bank Holiday timetable, which the company operates, has only four return journeys.

Other routes include the 343 from Halifax to Huddersfield, which takes an equally circuitous route to its Greater Mancunian counterpart in Mossley. Also the Huddersfield Town Bus, which has its roots in Metro West Yorkshire ITA’s Free Bus routes.

Post-pandemic review

On the Yorkshire Tiger website, it said that the sale was “part of a local review as we look to recover from the impact of the COVID19 and will allow us to focus our operations in Yorkshire“. In The Yorkshire Post, Transdev Blazefield’s Managing Director Alex Hornby said:

“We are thrilled to be growing our team and our company, and are really looking forward to serving this part of West Yorkshire for the first time.

“This demonstrates Transdev’s long-term commitment to develop our business here in the north of England, building on a clear track record of success.”

He also adds, “At this critical time for the bus, we believe it can play a key role in enabling our economic recovery, both locally and nationally.”

With an impressive market share in Kirklees and Calderdale, Alex Hornby’s take on the tiger buses could give FirstGroup a rude awakening. Will they retire the Calder Cubs and introduce their own brands? Will there be some integration with Transdev Blazefield’s sister companies in Keighley and Harrogate? Whilst we work towards a London-style ticketing system for the whole of Greater Manchester, buying a single bus ticket from Rochdale to Scarborough could become a reality by September.

S.V., 15 April 2021.

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