First Bus have announced a number of cuts to buses serving South Leeds ranging from reduced timetables to the cancellation of some routes.
The changes will come into force on Sunday 2 April 2023 and will see the cancellation of the 48 and 87 services as well as reduced services on the 9A, 47, PR1 and PR3 routes (see details below).
First Bus blame low passenger numbers and say that the Government’s Bus Recovery Grant does not enable them to keep every route open. The Bus Recovery Grant was introduced by the Government during COVID and had been due to stop in April, but has recently been extend by three months.
Kayleigh Ingham, Commercial Director of First West Yorkshire, said:
“We have worked closely with the (West Yorkshire) Combined Authority (WYCA) to maintain connectivity where possible. Unfortunately some of these journeys are no longer viable given low levels of utilisation and increased operating costs, whilst WYCA has chosen to revise or withdraw some of these expired contracts for the same reasons.”
Leeds City Councillors have reacted angrily with Councillor Helen Hayden, Executive Member for Highways, saying:
“I can’t believe we are here again. We know that the situation for buses is difficult at this moment no matter who is running them. It’s mind boggling the Government hasn’t learnt the lessons from only a few short months ago and got a grip on this situation.
“Whilst this list of routes is shorter than it could have been, for some further routes it is at best a temporary stay. We are seeing a wide raft of service reductions and withdrawals due to the Governments continued dithering over funding. This is more short-term sticking plasters solutions at the 11th hour and the Government needs to get its finger out and put in place some long term funding for buses so we can all have some long term certainty, rather than facing this problem again in June.
“This comes on the back of 30 years of decline since deregulation of the bus sector put the power to choose routes into the hands of the operators. We may have made different choices to address this funding shortfall, helping protect those communities most in need, but private operators will always choose to focus on financially profitable routes.
“This is just one of the reasons we continue to support the Mayor’s pledge to bring buses back into public ownership.”
Cllr Peter Carlill, Lead Member for Sustainable Transport, added:
“Buses form a crucial link for many of our communities and it is vital that we don’t see any reductions that will sever those connections. It’s the most frequently used form of public transport, is more sustainable, and often the most affordable for people.
“Leeds is losing vital community connections, with many of the routes pulled being orbital or inter-community. City centre routes are important, but we want to see companies investing more into these local routes between nearby communities such as Horsforth to Pudsey or Morley to East Ardsley.
“Now more than ever people need to know their bus is going to be able to get them to work so they don’t lose wages or, worse, their position. We’re calling on the Government to provide sustainable long term funding for buses in Leeds, as they receive in London, to allow us meet our ambitions to grow and improve the network.”
Cllr Andrew Scopes (Labour, Beeston & Holbeck) commented:
“It is saddening to see bus services reduced in our area, particularly at a time when the Council is trying to support increases in bus use for practical and environmental reasons, just another example of the failed privatisation of buses. Reducing park and ride services will inevitably increase congestion in the City Centre and be a step backwards in the work to make our air cleaner.”
South Leeds bus cuts in full:
9A formerly ran from Horsforth and Pudsey via White Rose Shopping Centre and Middleton to Seacroft. The service will no longer serve Horsforth and Pudsey, but start at White Rose, except for one bus a day for students attending Elliott Hudson College. The Sunday service will reduce from hourly to two hourly.
47 runs from Leeds through Hunslet, Belle Isle, Middleton, Morley and Cottingley to White Rose Shopping Centre. This service will be rerouted to operate directly from Newhall Road to St George’s Road via Sharp Lane, omitting Manor Farm, Middleton Park Circus and Middleton Park Road.
48 which ran from north Leeds through Hunslet, Belle Isle and Middleton to Morley will be withdrawn
48A will be renumbered 47A
87 which ran from Bramley through Holbeck, Beeston Hill and Hunslet to Leeds and St James’s Hospital will be withdrawn
PR1 the Elland Road Park & Ride. Journeys before 7am and after 6:30pm will be withdrawn. Off-peak frequency will be reduced from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes. Saturday and Sunday services will be withdrawn.
PR3 the Stourton Park & Ride. Journeys after 7:30pm will be withdrawn. Off-peak and Saturday frequency will be reduced from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes, and early morning / evening frequency will also be reduced. The Sunday service will be withdrawn.
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