Multi-million pound bus investment bids to keep Leeds and West Yorkshire on move

West Yorkshire's three biggest bus operators today revealed the eye-watering cost of their efforts to keep the county on the move.

Paul Matthews from First, Alex Hornby from Transdev, Dave Pearson from the WYCA and Jonathan Woodhouse from Arriva.

First West Yorkshire, Arriva Yorkshire and Transdev Blazefield have between them invested £23.5m in just over 100 new eco-friendly buses during the course of this year.

The figure was announced eight months after the operators joined forces with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to launch a partnership called Bus 18.

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Other achievements by the partnership include:

* The approval of £1m worth of funding for work designed to ease congestion at 28 bus ‘hotspots’;

* Improvements to information displays that are being rolled out across 14,000 bus stops;

* The launch of a new MCard android app which lets passengers make payments directly onto travel smart cards.

Bosses at First have committed to investing in a total of 284 new vehicles in Leeds by the end of 2020.

Paul Matthews, managing director at First Leeds, said: “The new vehicles will be fitted with Euro VI engines, which demonstrate our commitment to helping to improve the air quality across the city, as these engines produce over 90 per cent less harmful pollutants than the vehicles they replace.”

Coun Keith Wakefield, the WYCA’s transport chair, said: “Bus 18 is where the authorities and commercial bus operators work together to encourage people out of their cars onto cleaner buses.

“We will harness bus operators’ investment in new buses together with current government funding to improve emissions from older buses to increase the numbers of passengers travelling on a clean bus fleet.”

The YEP led calls earlier this year for improvements to Leeds’s bus system after city council leader Coun Judith Blake revealed “heartbreaking stories” of residents in her ward losing jobs due to services frequently running late.