A consultation being undertaken by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is the next step to bringing public transport back under public control.
Bus services in England, apart from London, have been privatised since 1986. The result has been steep fare rises, unreliability and the cutting of unprofitable routes.
We now have a chance to take bus services back into public control through a system called franchising. Manchester has already introduced franchising with its Bee Line network. Liverpool is not far behind and West Yorkshire could follow in the spring.
West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin, has called the government’s process as “tortuous”, but we have now got to the public consultation stage. It’s now our turn to have our say on how our buses should be run.
The WYCA consultation runs until 7 January, with people able to have their say at numerous drop-in sessions, online, or by post.
Currently, bus routes, timetables, and fares, are mainly set by private bus operators, which has led to inconsistent standards across the region. A WYCA assessment, which has been reviewed by an independent auditor, looked at the options for bus reform and concluded that Franchising would offer “clear strategic benefits”.
Bus Franchising would give theWYCA control over the routes, frequency, fares and overall standards of the region’s buses, and it would then contract bus operators to run these on its behalf.
The assessment also looked at the benefits of new partnerships with local bus operators, known as ‘enhanced partnership plus’.
A wide range of people — including bus operators, organisations representing passengers and members of the public — are being asked for their views on the way buses should be run in West Yorkshire.
Simon Warburton, Executive Director of Transport at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said:
“We are currently at a crossroads on our journey towards better buses in West Yorkshire.
“We are keen to tell everyone about our plans, and this consultation is the final stage before a decision is made on how to create a better-connected region.
“No decision has been made yet – and that’s why we want as many people as possible to have their say.”
Following the consultation, the results will be published, and a final decision is expected to be made on the future of West Yorkshire’s buses in Spring 2024.
You can find the online survey at www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/busreform
A face to face consultation event will take place on Thursday (2 November 2023) 10am-1pm at the Hamara Healthy Living Centre, Tempest Road, Beeston, LS11 8RD.
Team Beeston, part of Leeds Citizens, are also holding a meeting, asking ‘Are you fed up of the buses?’ and inviting you to come and have your say at St Andrew’s Methodist Church, Old Lane, LS11 8AG on Tuesday 14 November at 7pm.
Existing bus operators have joined forces to promote the ‘enhanced partnership plus’ model of reform.
‘The Best for West Yorkshire’ campaign sets out the case for the ‘Enhanced Partnership Plus’ (EP+), which operators are confident will deliver benefits for customers including accelerating public control without the burden and financial risk of a franchise model.
A spokesperson for the operators said:
“We recognise there needs to be reform and firmly believe we can go faster to bring about change.”
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