York's location on the River Ouse and in the centre of the Vale of York means that it has always had a significant position in the nation's transport system. The city grew up as a river port at the confluence of the River Ouse and the River Foss. The Ouse was originally a tidal river, accessible to sea-going ships of the time. Today both of these rivers remain navigable, although the Foss is only navigable for a short distance above the confluence. A lock at Naburn on the Ouse to the south of York means that the river in York is no longer tidal.
Until the end of the 20th century, the Ouse was used by barges to carry freight between York and the port of Hull. The last significant traffic was the supply of newsprint to the local newspaper's Foss-side print works, which continued until 1997. Today navigation is almost exclusively leisure-oriented. YorkBoat provides cruises on the river.
Like most cities founded by the Romans, York is well served by long distance trunk roads. The city lies at the intersection of the A19 road from Doncaster to Tyneside, the A59 road from Liverpool to York, the A64 road from Leeds to Scarborough, and the A1079 road from York to Hull. The A64 road provides the principal link to the motorway network, linking York to both the A1(M) and the M1 motorways at a distance of about 10 miles (16 km) from the city.
The city is surrounded on all sides by an outer ring road, at a distance of some 3 miles (4.8 km) from the centre of the city, which allows through traffic to by-pass the city. The street plan of the historic core of the city dates from medieval times and is not suitable for modern traffic. As a consequence many of the routes inside the city walls are designated as car free during business hours or restrict traffic entirely. To alleviate this situation, five bus based park and ride sites operate in York. The sites are located towards the edge of the urban area, with easy access from the ring road, and allow out of town visitors to complete their journey into the city centre by bus.
York has been a major railway centre since the first line arrived in 1839 at the beginning of the railway age. For many years the city hosted the headquarters and works of the North Eastern Railway. York railway station is a principal stop on the East Coast Main Line from London to Newcastle and Edinburgh. It takes less than two hours to get to York from London by rail, with at least 25 direct trains each weekday. The station is also served by long distance trains on Cross Country services linking Edinburgh and Newcastle with destinations in south and west England via Birmingham. TransPennine Express provide a frequent service of semi-fast trains linking York to Newcastle, Scarborough, Leeds, Manchester, Manchester Airport, and Liverpool. Local stopping services by Northern Rail connect York to Bridlington, Harrogate, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and many intermediate points, as well as many other stations across Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
York has an airfield at the former RAF Elvington, some 7 miles (11 km) south-east of the city centre, which is the home of the Yorkshire Air Museum. Elvington is used for private aviation. Plans have been drafted to expand the site for business aviation or a full commercial service.
York is linked to Manchester Airport by an hourly direct TransPennine Express train, giving access to the principal airport serving the north of England, with connections to many destinations in Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. Leeds Bradford Airport is closer to York but the hourly York Air Coach service operated by First York was withdrawn as of April 2009. Leeds Bradford Airport provides connections to most major European and North African airports as well as Pakistan and New York.
Public transport within the city is largely bus based. The principal bus operator is First York, a part of FirstGroup plc. First York operates the majority of the city's local bus services, as well as the York park and ride services. York is the location of the first implementation of FirstGroup's experimental, and controversial, ftr bus concept, which seeks to confer the advantages of a modern tramway system at a lower cost. Transdev York and York Pullman also operate a number of local bus services. Open top tourist and sightseeing buses are operated by Transdev York on behalf of City Sightseeing, and by York Pullman.
Rural services, linking local towns and villages with York, are provided by a number of companies. Longer distance bus services are provided by a number of operators including, Arriva Yorkshire services to Selby, East Yorkshire Motor Services on routes to Hull, Beverley, Pocklington, Harrogate & District services to Knaresborough and Harrogate. Yorkshire Coastliner links Leeds via York with Scarborough, Filey, Bridlington and Whitby.
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