New West Yorkshire bus alliance sought to improve value for money

West Yorkshire Combined Authority wants to increase bus patronage by 25 per cent across the region.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority wants to increase bus patronage by 25 per cent across the region.
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A formal alliance with bus operators to drive increased bus use and better customer satisfaction will be sought by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

An initial ‘Bus18’ partnership with bus companies Arriva, First and Transdev saw a £2.60 day ticket introduced for young people last summer.

Now, the combined authority has agreed to develop a more formal alliance for 2019 to seek further value for money for passengers.

Coun Kim Groves, who chairs the authority’s transport committee, said: “The combined authority and local authorities are committed to increasing bus patronage by 25 per cent across West Yorkshire and doubling it in Leeds and we will need to work closely with bus companies to achieve this.

“In time, this will be supported by a statutory arrangement between the bus operators and the combined authority, in the meantime we can’t stand still.

“We have formed a positive and close working relationship to develop benefits for bus users, particularly young people, and seen new levels of cooperation that did not exist previously and now we are developing a formal alliance with bus operators, which sets out clear actions and targets for all parties.”

The next steps, she said, will be to draw up a delivery plan and set out what customers can expect by 2021 for approval by the transport committee in the new year.

At a meeting of the committee, Dave Pearson, the combined authority’s transport services director, explained why a closer partnership was needed with the region’s bus operators.

He said: “We need to address a lot of issues with our bus services’ availability, affordability and to shape the bus service according to what our social and economic needs are.”

Casting the ambition of a partnership further, he added: “This is the way we could pick up the refreshing and renewal of the bus fleet to address our clean air environment.”

Some committee members advocated a more radical shake-up of operating bus services in West Yorkshire, by adopting a franchising model, but only metro mayoral regions, and Cornwall via its devolution deal, have such powers. In these areas, legal arrangements for such an approach are being explored.