The 36 (Leeds-Harrogate-Ripon)
1 reviews from the community
Review of "The 36 (Leeds-Harrogate-Ripon)"
INTRODUCTIONThe 36 is a single route bus service run by private regional bus operators Harrogate & District. It runs from Leeds to Harrogate to Ripon via Harewood and Ripley roughly every 20 minutes during the day. Personally, I've been using the service on and off since around 2000 and very regularly over the past 2 years to get to my college and back (from Leeds to Harrogate). The website for up to date timetables and pricing information is http://www.the36.co.uk
The 36 is (and always has been) fairly expensive as far as buses are concerned. But, as with most things in life it's a case of you get what you pay for. Around 4 years ago it cost me about £2 for a single from my nearest stop (North Leeds). These days it's £2.50 - so the price hasn't risen too much considering recent investments. A day return from Leeds centre to Harrogate centre (or the equivalent for Harrogate to Ripon) costs £4.20. The journey takes about 30-40 minutes. However, if you're staying the night in Harrogate (as I do quite frequently) there is no Period Return option so you end up paying for 2 singles - that's at least £5 return.
USING THE 36
However, compare this to the train and it's still cheaper - the train from Leeds to Harrogate costs about £5 for a single (without railcard) and in my opinion the 36 is miles better so it's not too bad value when you think about it. Various other ticket options are available for regular travellers such as a weekly ticket and the Gold Card, a mere £600 for unlimited travel for a year *ouch*. You'd have to use the bus a lot to make that pay off!As far as catching a 36 is concerned, you turn up at any stop along the route and wait for one to show up. Stick your arm out (otherwise they're not obliged to stop apparently) and board. Say where you want to go, pay up, collect a ticket and there you go.
Recently (2003) Harrogate and District purchased 12 brand spanking new Wright Eclipse Gemini buses for an investment of over £2 million, fitted out to the very highest spec (first of their kind in the UK). The buses in operation before these were perfectly adequate, more like the kind you'd find serving most routes these days, the new ones however are quite spectacular. They're very slick looking double-decker vehicles, and you know they're rather advanced from the moment you board. A very large, bright orange LED display on the front displays the service number (always 36/36A) and its routing (Harrogate/Ripon etc) so you know you're getting the right bus. The driver's cockpit is very futuristic, featuring LCD screens displaying camera views from the side/back.
The bottom deck is nicely done out with comfy high-backed fabric seats, however I never sit here given the treat that waits upstairs. Unusually for a double-deck vehicle, the 36 has a straight staircase which makes climbing up/down while moving much easier. It's nicely lit too by coloured halogen lamps above it. The top deck is very light and airy with large windows all round. The seats here are the real treat. They're fully leather upholstered bucket-style seats complete with armrests and tonnes of legroom - in fact they're some of the most comfy seats I've ever sat in and that includes my settee at home!Another great feature of the 36 is the TFT LCD screens placed around the vehicle that provide information about the current position of the bus, the stop just gone and the next 2 stops as well as a slideshow of information about tickets, discounts, offers etc. I've found these aren't enormously reliable, often crashing mid-journey or not working at all but seeing as its a fairly new system I guess there's still bugs to be worked out. Its a nice touch nonetheless.
There's plenty of bright red grab rails about for holding on to, and plenty of STOP buttons which produce a very swish little chime and trigger a large green 'stopping' light at the front. There's very little engine noise and some of the windows open to get a bit of fresh air in. The heating is very good, I've never been cold on a 36 - although sometimes they get a bit too warm.
I've nearly always found the 36 to be very clean and tidy. It seems H&D take pride in keeping the buses well looked after and the clientele respond well to this. There's very rarely litter about, nor have I found there to be any problems with smell, graffiti or vandalism. Top marks on this front, streets ahead of all other bus operators in the area.
Whilst no bus service can be perfect on this front, I've usually found the 36 to be pretty much on time. With the service being so frequent during the day, I've rarely waited more than 20 minutes for a bus, and following the timetable I rarely wait more than 5. There are of course occasional slip-ups where you don't see one for half an hour and then 2 turn up but these occasions are few and far between and usually down to roadworks/traffic rather than unreliability. I believe that plasma screens at major stops are being fitted to inform waiting passengers of the status of the next bus - another great touch, although one that has yet to be implemented.
To be honest, most of the bus drivers tend to be a bit unfriendly/grumpy. But this is par for the course with virtually every other bus service I've ever used so there's nothing unexpected here. You do occasionally get one who will have a bit of a banter and smile at you but this is rare. Does it matter? Not really...Users of the 36 are generally nice and quiet, there's the occasional drunk/bum/weirdo but again this is par for the course with public transport and I very rarely encounter them on the 36. I've never run into any trouble personally which I can't say about every bus I've ever used.
There's a variety of free leaflets available some of which detail safety/security procedures - another nice touch. There are also several CCTV cameras around on each bus which add an extra feeling of security.
VALUE FOR MONEY/THE ALTERNATIVES
From Leeds to Harrogate:The 36 - £3.00 - Clean, comfortable, quiet, reliable, regular.
Arriva Trains - £5.00 - Crowded, dirty, noisy, uncomfortable, unreliable.
Taxi - £25.00
So I'd say he 36 is the clear winner here - except for late night - the last 36 to Leeds (say if you've gone out for a night in Harrogate) is very early at 22.20 so this reduces your options a fair amount. I believe the last 36 from Leeds is 23.00 so you're better off with train/taxi on a night out.
Overall, I'd say the 36 is about the best public bus service I've ever used. Its only slight drawbacks are its cost and lack of late-night running, but other than that its about as close as you're gonna get to perfection on a bus.Hope you enjoyed the review and get to try out those lovely leather seats sometime! Tom.
Product Information : The 36 (Leeds-Harrogate-Ripon)
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 23/07/2004