Improving Yorkshire’s ‘dire’ buses ‘will help climate’

Councillors must take buses back into public control says union
Councillors must take buses back into public control says union
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Improvements to Yorkshire’s “dire” bus services must be put at the heart of addressing climate change, councillors were urged last night.

Officials are expected to rubber-stamp changes today which will make “tackling the climate emergency” a “corporate priority” for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which encompasses local councils and businesses.

But the amendments, which include proposals to install 88 new charging points for electric cars but make no specific mention of buses, do not go far enough, the TUC said.

It wants councillors to instead take bus services back into public control and reopen negotiations with the Government for a tram service for the region.

“Bus transport is one of the main areas in which local government can make a real difference, and it’s quite disappointing that it doesn’t feature in their objectives for tackling climate change,” a TUC spokesman said.

“The objectives fail to take radical action to improve the declining services offered by private bus operators in the region.”

Unions have long campaigned for buses, as well as trains, to be removed from the “free market” system which awards contracts to private contractors. It wants councils to use the franchise powers they have under the 2017 Bus Services Act, to gain greater control over routes, frequency, investment in clean technology and integration with the wider transport network.

However, Dan Jarvis, the metro mayor in neighbouring South Yorkshire, has warned that franchising would require “significant additional investment” from the Government. He has commissioned an independent review of the county’s bus network.

The TUC’s regional secretary, Bill Adams, said: “Council leaders should put their money where their mouth is and take action on our dire bus services. By taking buses back into public control we can turn around 30 years of decline, have more frequent and better bus services, and demand green, low carbon vehicles that serve local communities, rather than corporate profit.

“Without radical, green investment in our public transport system, council leaders will be failing our generation and the next in fight against the climate emergency.”

Today’s meeting of West Yorkshire’s Combined Authority is expected to approve the addition of a climate change policy to its business plan for this year and next, which it says will grow the economy “while cutting emissions and caring for our environment”. The authority wants the region to be carbon neutral by 2038.

A spokesman for the Combined Authority said: “We are tackling the climate emergency in all our activities. A significant part of this work is encouraging greater use of public transport and buses are at the heart of this.”