West Yorkshire's bus network is 'broken', warns mayor Tracy Brabin

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin says she hopes to be able to take control of her region’s “broken” bus network.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is currently in the process of investigating the potential of bringing bus services back under public control in a franchising model already due to be introduced in Greater Manchester from 2023.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post at the Transport for the North conference in Leeds on Monday, Ms Brabin said the current model in the region of different operators with different pricing structures and often unreliable services needs to be fixed.

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She said that while a series of measures of being pursued in the short-term to improve the current situation, including seeking more Government funding, moving to public control of the buses may be part of the long-term solution.

Tracy Brabin says West Yorkshire's bus services are not working as they should be.

Ms Brabin said her vision for West Yorkshire’s bus network was a “fairer system” with capped daily fares.

“We are also spending £1m developing our plan to look at public control of the bus network to see exactly what the next steps are,” she said.

She said as part of that process, she is liaising with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham. “We are working with them, seeing where their challenges are and their bottlenecks so we can go a little bit faster.”

She said if West Yorkshire do follow that route, it will take several years before it comes to fruition.

“It is a Government timetable so it is going to be a couple of years whilst we investigate the process. Then there will be another election so hopefully I will be the mayor again. Then of course it comes in on a schedule. We will be as bold and as transformational and as speedy as we can be, if that’s the decision we take.”

She said the current system is “broken”.

“It doesn’t work and I wish I controlled all the buses because everybody that knows I’m determined to make the bus system better is contacting me about their individual bus. I wish I was more in control to help them but we know it is broken.

"So many people are missing out because they can’t get home on time, they can’t pick up their kids on time, they can’t get to that interview or exam. We have to make sure we have that great system that London has because if it is good enough for London it is good enough for us.”

'Bonkers' issue with multiple fares

Tracy Brabin said part of the current challenge is having multiple different operators imposing different fares.

“You might do half of your journey with one operator and half with another operator and potentially pay a different fare.

“That makes no sense. I was just at Leeds City College and they buy bus tickets for disadvantaged students. They have to buy two sets because it is two different operators – that is just bonkers.

“I’m working to try and bring that together so you can have a unified capped cost because we know it isn’t fair the way it is working.

“We’ve got a lot to do.”

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