A BUS firm's multi-million-pound 'vote of confidence' in Keighley has been welcomed by community leaders.

Transdev is investing in 15 new electric buses to convert one of its most popular routes to zero-emission operations.

The Shuttle service, which runs between Keighley and Bradford, is set to be transformed by the end of next year.

Transdev, parent firm of Keighley Bus Company, is pumping £4.4m into the venture.

And a further £3.1m has been secured from the Government's Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) fund, following a successful bid by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

An order has been placed for Mercedes-Benz E-Citaro all-electric single-deck buses, after successful trials both on the Shuttle route and between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

As part of the trials, Transdev invited passengers to rate design features, and feedback was incorporated into the specifications for the new vehicles – which will be fully compliant with Bradford’s Clean Air Zone.

Transdev managing director, Henri Rohard, says: "This significant order for 15 new electric buses will deliver the best experience for our customers as well as helping to clear the air in Bradford, Saltaire, Bingley and Keighley.

"The project has been made possible thanks to the considerable support from the Government’s ZEBRA fund.

"Also, Transdev is directly investing £4.4 million in these new buses for our Shuttle route, representing almost 60 per cent of the total cost. The new buses are expected to be in service by the end of next year.

"Higher power output delivered by today’s new-generation batteries means each bus can go further between charge-ups, while helping us to provide our customers with the reliable and punctual service they rightly expect from us."

Transdev will now work with Mercedes-Benz engineers to ensure the in-house engineering team at its Keighley depot, where the buses will be based, is trained to deliver maximum performance from the new vehicles.

Keighley's town mayor, Councillor John Kirby, a former bus driver, says he welcomes the "huge investment".

He adds: "I know the vital link that our bus services provide across Keighley.

"The added bonus that the new vehicles are electric is the real icing on the cake.

"They will make a huge difference to the quality and reliability of services provided by Keighley Bus Company."

Keighley MP Robbie Moore describes the move as "great news for commuters".

"It marks even more Government investment in our town’s transport network this year," he adds.

"Local priorities matter, and so whether it’s the extension of the £2 bus fare cap scheme into 2024, the introduction of £1 bus fares in Keighley or the £830 million investment in West Yorkshire's transport infrastructure, I will never stop fighting to secure even more investments like these for our town’s transport infrastructure – whether from the Government or West Yorkshire Combined Authority."

The combined authority successfully bid for £24 million in total from the Government to support three West Yorkshire operators, including Transdev, with the introduction of zero-emission electric buses.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, who chairs the combined authority's transport committee, says: "Bus travel is vital for people across West Yorkshire, but so is the need to safeguard our environment for future generations.

"Schemes like this will ultimately form part of a modern, greener public transport network, fit for the 21st century, and help encourage more people onto the bus.

"It will also help us tackle the climate emergency and achieve our target of becoming a carbon net-zero region by 2038."