From: Ray Wilkes, Co-ordinator, West Yorkshire Campaign for Better Transport.
WE are very disappointed to see another plea for bus franchising (The Yorkshire Post, February 9) as the case for franchising was not based on sound statistics.
Contrary to what Metro claims, bus use appears to be growing in West Yorkshire, not falling. Most of the fall in bus use since its peak in the 1950s was before deregulation.
Metro reported that customer dissatisfaction is high, whereas Transport Focus surveys consistently show that the majority of passengers are satisfied with First and Arriva’s bus services. Previous surveys have shown that satisfaction with London bus services is over 10 per cent lower.
A major cause of dissatisfaction was journey time and punctuality, which is heavily influenced by congestion and roadworks. Almost two-thirds of fare-paying passengers were satisfied that fares were value for money.
As for the ticket options being confusing, having a choice is always more confusing than the Hobson’s choice which Metro wants to impose on us. Half of bus users elect to buy the cheaper company only tickets, some of which allow travel into Lancashire, South and North Yorkshire, an option unavailable on Metro tickets. Nevertheless the Metro tickets, valid on any bus in West Yorkshire, are deservedly very popular. However, they should not be imposed on people whose ticket needs are different.
It is perverse of Metro to try to remove all these benefits of ticket choice and replace them with what Transport for the North describes as “a contactless plastic smartcard based on London’s electronic ticketing system, after officials decided the technology was outdated”.
Furthermore Metro knows that the bus companies are bringing in a modern form of smart ticketing system very soon.
These would have all the benefits of the Metro tickets while retaining the other options, with a capping system to protect those who bought the wrong ticket.
In a comment on the article Mark Harwood, speaking for the Leeds Better Bus Campaign, states very reasonably that he does not care who runs the buses as long as they are run well, and this is broadly our position.
However, we need to be aware that the London system is hugely expensive and we do not believe West Yorkshire council tax payers would want a huge increase in their council tax especially when it is based on misleading information.