'Make Yorkshire bus journeys free during COP26', mayors and council leaders urged

Political leaders in Yorkshire are being urged to introduce free bus journeys for residents during the pivotal COP26 climate conference in the UK next month.

Campaigners hope to see free bus journeys introduced across Yorkshire to coincide with COP26. Picture: James Hardisty

Unions along with environmental and bus campaigners have launched petitions asking Yorkshire’s metro mayors and council leaders to introduce free bus travel during the COP26 climate talks from November 1 to 12 this year.

They have highlighted the success of a scheme run by Swansea Council in August offering free bus travel to local residents between Fridays and Mondays which saw passenger journeys double on some services. It was part of the council's £20m Covid recovery plan to help boost the local economy and support families following the pandemic.

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Campaigners say the Swansea scheme cost £1.50 per resident and estimate that a similar scheme would cost £1.54 per resident in West Yorkshire and £1.85 per person in South Yorkshire.

According to Kim Groves, chair of WYCA’s transport committee, 40 per cent of local emissions come from transport, with over 60 per cent of these emissions originating from cars. Yorkshire is currently showing a “car-led” recovery as public transport use remains down on 2019.

Phil Bown, Unite Officer for Passenger Transport said: “Buses have a leading role to play in delivering a fair climate transition, reducing local pollution and offering the potential for more green jobs with more passenger services.

“However, we cannot expect most people to leave the car at home if they are priced off the bus or find the number of ticket options so confusing they never know if they’re getting value-for-money.

“Making buses free during COP26 would show that Yorkshire’s leaders are serious about using our buses to cut emissions, without pushing the costs onto local people.

“Buses have already been subsidised by taxpayer money through this pandemic, so instead of passengers paying twice, we’re calling on local leaders to make buses free this November.”

COP26 will see world leaders gather in Glasgow to determine what collective global action can be taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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