By Joshua Robinson –
Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin has joined forces with council leaders and regional transport bosses to help “supercharge” some of the region’s bus routes with new, cheaper and more regular services.
The improvements, which link Leeds, Keighley and Shipley, came into force on Sunday 3rd September, as part of efforts from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to get more people out of their cars and onto public transport.
In total, these improvements will create more than 1,100 extra bus journeys every month in West Yorkshire.
Changes also include a £1 flat fare for all those travelling on the Keighley town network.
It comes as the Combined Authority launches its mission to create a better-connected West Yorkshire – part of its recently-adopted West Yorkshire Plan.
The improvements will be delivered initially with local bus operator Transdev Blazefield, through the West Yorkshire Bus Enhanced Partnership.
The changes include:
- All passengers on the Keighley town network will have a £1 flat fare, while the K3 and K7 services will increase in frequency – running every ten minutes and every 12 minutes respectively.
- Passengers on the number 60 Aireline service will benefit from a new 60A service, running hourly on Monday to Saturday daytime from Shipley to Leeds via Calverley Lane in Rodley, replacing part of the previous 508 route. Combined with the existing 60 services, this means buses between Shipley and Leeds increasing from half-hourly to every 20 minutes.
- Work is also ongoing to help fund extra services between Huddersfield and Halifax, as well as the districts’ hospitals. Discussions are also taking place on how the scheme can fund extra services in Wakefield. These are set to be introduced over the coming months.
The Combined Authority will fund the enhanced services at a reduced rate for the first three years, with operators agreeing to take the commercial risk in years four and five, to make them financially sustainable in the longer term.
The improvements come alongside changes from other bus operators in the region, including increased frequency on First’s 2, 3, 3A, 12, 13, and 324 services, while more 47 and 47A services will be extended to Morley.
Daytime services on the Harrogate Bus Company’s 36 service will also increase from every 15 to every 10 minutes. Arriva is also introducing the brand new 103 service in Wakefield, between Eastmoor, City Fields and Pinderfields Hospital.
The Combined Authority is also planning to improve buses in the longer term by working towards having greater public control over services. A consultation on these proposals is set to take place before the end of the year.
Further service improvements in Calderdale and Kirklees are also set to be introduced in the coming months.
Paid for using money from the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), the total cost to the Combined Authority for the service improvements is around £4.23m over three years.
Discussions are also ongoing with Wakefield to design a specific package to enhance local bus provision in the district.
Visiting Keighley Bus Station to announce the changes, Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said: “More than 1,100 extra bus journeys per month is a huge boost for bus services in West Yorkshire.”
“This is a massive step towards my vision for a better-connected region, where reliable and affordable public transport is the first choice for travel.”
Mayor Brabin added: “I know that bus services in West Yorkshire have not been good enough – but I am determined to change with measures like these.”
“And this is just the beginning – we are in talks with bus operators and local authorities about how we can build from this scheme to improve services in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield too.”
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “We are delighted to launch these service enhancements to boost the bus network across West Yorkshire.”
“A £1 Keighley zone flat fare in particular will help encourage more people onto the buses and keep prices down for passengers. It’s another positive step in improving transport links across the district and helping with the cost of living for those wanting to use public transport.
“Delivering cheaper, more reliable bus travel across the region makes sustainable transport an increasingly convenient option and puts customers at the heart of the service.”
Transdev Commercial Director Paul Turner said: “These significant improvements are all about making the bus the natural first choice for journeys into our town and city centres, while delivering all the benefits of lower traffic congestion and cleaner air for everyone.”
“The increase to three buses an hour between Shipley and Leeds, plus the return of our Harrogate route 36 to a bus every 10 minutes, will help us to cater for rising demand for journeys to and from Leeds city centre.”
Paul Turner added: “In partnership with WYCA and with Government support through its Bus Service Improvement Plan, we’ll also introduce more frequent local buses on three of our routes in Keighley, plus a £1 a trip low fare for journeys within the town, including to Airedale Hospital.”
The Combined Authority was awarded nearly £70 million last year by the Department for Transport to support the delivery of its BSIP.