First and Arriva refuse to rule out further cuts to bus services in West Yorkshire

Bus operators First and Arriva have refused to rule out making further service cuts, though both say they now want to “grow” the network.

Passengers across West Yorkshire have endured two years’ of misery as rafts of routes have been axed and timetables repeatedly chopped and changed. Many of the cuts have been blamed on lower bus patronage post-pandemic and uncertainty over government funding.

Statistics published by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) this week show passenger satisfaction with bus services in the region is at a five-year low. There are indications that the chaos may have bottomed out, with WYCA sources suggesting in recent weeks that operators may be looking to introduce new routes, or lay on more frequent services.

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But grilled at a regional transport committee meeting on Tuesday, neither First or Arriva offered cast-iron guarantees over the future.

First and Arriva both want to grow the networkFirst and Arriva both want to grow the network
First and Arriva both want to grow the network

Asked by Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe if they could rule out further cuts, Kayleigh Ingram from First Bus said: “What I’d say is it’s not in our interests to cut services. We know it’s a huge point of feedback and it’s not something we want to do.

“I think we’ve made real headway over the last six to 12 months in planning for service changes, ensuring we’re listening to district leaders on the wishes of their constituents and trying to respond to those as best we can, while bearing in mind that the sustainability of the network relies on, in many respects, profitable services.”

Kim Cain, Arriva Yorkshire’s commercial director, offered similar sentiments. She told councillors: “We are always trying to grow the network. We still do have a couple of routes of concern but I’m very optimistic that colleagues at the Combined Authority will be able to find solutions to those.”

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Mrs Cain warned that government funding for the bus industry and how much firms are reimbursed for concession tickets were “two unknowns” going forward.

But she added: “We’re hopeful there will be good outcomes and that no further cuts will be needed. That’s certainly our ambition.”

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