Acomb Baptist Church

Together knowing Jesus and making him known

York Goes Electric


Frist York - the primary bus service operator in York - introduced new Wright Streetdeck Electroliner double-deck buses into service on the No 4 route (Acomb - City Centre) on Sunday 27 August 2023. York Press 25 August 2023

First No 4 Electric Bus

Above Wright Streetdeck Electroliner 36503 on the No 4 on the first day of operation - Sunday 27 August 2023.

Two days later, on Tuesday 29 August 2023, Eletroliners also started to work on the No 1 and the 5/5A. 


Above Wright Streetdeck Electroliner 36507 passing ABC on the No 1 on Wednesday 30 August 2023.

Since then, Electroliners have been in use on all three routes. Generally - although not universally - the No 4 is prioritised over the No 1 and No 5/5A.

On Mondays to Fridays, five buses are required to operate the the No 4; eight to operate the No 1; and seven to operate the 5/5A.

A total of 20 Electroliners have received '23' plate registrations with up to the 16th bus in service as of Thursday 7 September. It is understood a further 9 are on order. 


24 single-decker, 'GB Kite', are also on order with five having received '23' plate registrations and 14 receiving '73' plate registrations. Only a couple have been delivered to York and none have entered service yet. Two 'single deck' routes go down Leeman Road - P&R 2 and the 10 - which has two height restrictions: Holgate bridge (3.4m / 11'3") and 'Marble Arch' (3.7m / 12'). The GB Kites are shown on Wikipedia as being 3.3m / 11' tall so, in theory, they should be able to go under, even Holgate bridge. But there are reports of the No. 2 and No. 10 being diverted away (and possibly the P&R 59 being diverted down Leeman Road to compensate) suggesting the GB Kites cannot go under Leeman Road bridge. [Under separate plans, the City of York Council will be diverting the course of Leeman Road - but vehicles will still need to go through Marble Arch.]


Both vehicle types are being made in Northern Ireland by Wrightbus and should all be introduced by the end of the year - making First's York depot the first to be all-electric outside London. 


Initially, the latest order for electric buses was to go to Arrival - a new entrant into the UK bus market, but a switch of supplier was necessary when Arrival shelved plans to make an electric bus.


The Electroliners join 21 Optare Metrodeckers which were introduced in 2020. Press release. These vehicles were made at Optare's factory in nearby Sherburn-in-Elmet. 

The Metrodeckers are prioritised on the P&R services (Nos 3, 7, 8 and 9). They cannot operate on the No 2 - which has to use single-deckers due to going under two low bridges/tunnels. The remainder may also then work other double-deck routes 1, 4 and 5/5A, the University routes 66 and 67 or on the usually-single-deck routes 6 or P&R No 59).

Optare Metrodecker EV route 1

Above Optare Metrodecker 39520 (electric double-decker) on route 1 passing the church on Saturday 15 October 2022. This was the third known working of an electric bus on the no. 1 post-pandemic. The first known working was on Wednesday 28 September 2022 (39520) then, secondly, on Thursday 6 October 2022 (39518). Workings are now less rare (although none seen on a Sunday yet). 

Optare Metrodecker EV on route 5/5A

Above Optare Metrodecker 39518 (electric double-decker) on the 5/5A route passing the church on Tuesday 21 June 2022. These electric buses are now more common on the 5/5A (but have not been noted on a Sunday to date).

15 of the 21 are branded for Park & Ride (with a 16th wearing branding for York City Knights - whose ground is at the end of the No 9 Park & Ride route - so they tend to be prioritised on the P&R routes. 


Above The Park & Ride-branded Optare Metrodeckers do sometimes operate on non-P&R routes - as seen here with 39512 on the 5/5A on 7 August 2023.


Above Optare Metrodecker 39524 (electric double-decker) has all-over branding for York City Knights Rugby League club and is therefore most commonly found on the No 9 P&R route. It does, however, occasionally work other P&R routes and even on non-P&R routes - as seen here on the 5/5A on 7 August 2023.


To cover for poor availability of the Electric Metrodeckers for a few months in 2021/2022, a couple of diesel Optare Metrodeckers operated in York. One (YJ16 DBO / London OM1 / First York 35006) had originally worked in London still carrying its distinctive red livery - along with a Transport for London font used in the destination display. The other was silver-liveried 35005. Both frequently worked on routes 1, 4 and 5/5A.

Optare Metrodecker Diesel Route 4

Above While on loan to First York, 35006 - former London (diesel) Optare Metrodecker is seen here in Foxwood Lane on the No 4 on Thursday 8 July 2021.


York started its electric bus journey back in 2014 when six (later increased to 12) Optare Versa midi-buses were introduced on the No 59 Poppleton Bar P&R service. Link. These vehicles have been 're-tractioned' and are expected to work the No. 11 (Bishopthorpe-Burnholme) and 68 (University) routes link as well as being re-introduced onto their original P&R route 59

Optare Versa Route 5A

Above Optare Versa 49902 on a very, vary rare foray on the 5/5A on Wednesday 2 June 2021.

Optare (Solo) Metrocity xFE Demonstrator

Frist York currently operates an Optare (now known as Solo) Metrocity  midi-bus demonstrator. This is a diesel bus with extra fuel-efficient (xFE) software: link. This bus has been on loan to many different operators - including another one in York (Transdev) in the past. It is not known whether this bus is on loan due to the time taken to bring the re-tractioned Optare Versas back into service or not.

Optare Metrocity xFE

Above The sole Optare MetroCity with First York usually works single deck routes 6, 10, 11 or P&R 59 but has very occasionally worked on double-deck routes, eg 5/5A, as seen above on 7 August 2023. 

Hybrid Electrics

York used to operate five of only eleven Gemini 2 Hybrid Electrics made by Wright in 2009 - and one was never registered. These were predecessors to the Streetdecks. Ten buses started operation in London - five with Arriva and five with First. Before being transferred to York in 2014, the five First buses were significantly rebuilt. They were lengthened to accommodate Cummins engines which replaced the original Ford Puma ones. By 2019, one of York's five was transferred away to Bath (and subsequently on to Weston Super Mare). The other four remained in service in York. They are technically still on First's books - understood to be in storage in Halifax see photo. The fifth example is also understood to no longer be in use.

39002 Hybrid Electric

Above HEV 39002 on the 5/5A on 17 March 2021. 

39003 HEV

Above HEV 39003 in Acomb on the No. 1 31 July 2021. The extended overhang at the rear being noticeable. In these Covid 19 times, all the windows are open and the destination display is being used to recommend passengers wear a face mask.

New Diesels

Achieving a 100% electric fleet means even the 12 recently-delivered (72-plate) Wright Streetdeck Micro-hybrids will be transferred away from York even though they all have York-specific liveries. Eight are branded for York University services and the other four each have unique graphics showing Clifford's Tower, Shambles Market, the City Walls and 'Bishy Road' shops. 


Above The Streetdeck Micro-hybrids in the new University of York livery can often be found on non-University of York routes as exemplified here with 35931 on the 5A on 8 December 2022. (The nearside of the bus is more blue than pink.)

35935 Cliffords Tower

Above 35935 passing ABC on the 5A on 5 July 2023.

35936 Shambles Market

Above 35936 on the 5A on 4 July 2023.

35937 City Walls

Above 35937 on the 5A on 4 July 2023.

35938 Bishy RoadAbove 35938 on the 5A on 5 July 2023.

The University-branded buses do also work non-University routes. (It is expected that some of the new Electroliners will wear Branding for the University routes.)

Rapidly Disappearing

Diesel double deckers are being transferred away from York to other Frist Bus companies. As of 2 September 2023, only seven of the Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Geminis remain in service with York. Only one has the 'modern' First Bus 'Urban livery, four have the older 'Olympia' livery and two have an older version of York University service branding.


Above 37682 - a Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Gemini in Frist's Urban livery on the No1 at the stop close to Acomb Baptist Church. This bus only came to York from Leeds in 2019. It last worked in York on the 5/5A on 1 March 2023 and was then sent south to Bristol. 


Above 37249 - a Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Gemini in Frist's Olympia livery on the No 5A at the stop close to Acomb Baptist Church on 19 March 2021. 37249 is one of the last seven Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Geminis to remain in service at York.


Above Once the Streetdeck Micro-hybrids appeared in a new University of York livery, the older buses with University of York branding were deployed on non-University routes - such as 37255 seen here on the 5/5A on 30 August 2023. 37255 is also one of the last seven Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Geminis to remain in service at York.


Above There were two variants of the original University of York livery - one predominantly pink - as seen on 37255 - and one predominantly purple, as seen above on 37359. No 37359 was out of sequence with other Frist York vehicles - and the only one with a 'W' (West of England) registration mark (WX57 HLZ) It is seen on the No.4 in Front Street, Acomb on 19 March 2021. 37359 last worked in York on the 5/5A on 27 February 2023. It has since returned to Bristol and, unsurprisingly, has been repainted see here.


Above All the buses with the old University of York livery had unique advertisements covering the whole of the rear of the bus. 37359 seen here in Front Street, Acomb on 19 March 2021.

** Update Saturday 9 September **

By Saturday 9 September, three more of the Eclipse Geminis had been transferred away (the Urban-liveried one and two of the Olympia liveried ones) leaving only four (two Olympia-liveried and two University of York-liveried) left in York and only one actually in service.

Catching an electric to/from ABC

As more Electroliners are brought into service so the probability of an electric bus will increase until, by the end of 2023, there will be a 100% chance.

The useful Bustimes website (see links on the Find us page) will allow you to establish which vehicles are working which routes.

Back to 'Find Us'

Last updated 10 September 2023. (BAF)