Plans are underway to bring West Yorkshire’s bus services under public control as the much-criticized system faces a significant overhaul. West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin declared earlier this year that she is “sick to death” with the inconsistent and unreliable nature of the current system, which often leaves commuters stranded, waiting in vain for buses.
This move would transfer control of the bus services to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), effectively eliminating bus company profit margins from the equation, theoretically allowing for a more robust system to take its place. Concerns have been raised by Councillor Alan Lamb, the head of the Leeds Conservative opposition, who warned West Yorkshire residents that franchising might lead to an increase in their council tax bills by hundreds of pounds a year, “This will be much more expensive and it doesn’t deliver any improvements until at least 2028, by which time who knows what the world will look like?”
However, Ben Still, WYCA chief, dismissed these concerns, stating the appointment of Simon Warburton would move things along quickly. “Simon’s expertise will be invaluable in driving forward the ambitions we have for growth and prosperity across the region, I’m delighted to welcome him to the team as we enter the next phase of our journey.”
The plans entail WYCA contracting out its routes to private bus operators. Currently, these services are provided by Arrive, First Group, and Transdev. These companies establish their own routes and fares, each employing individual ticketing systems. WYCA’s goal is to streamline this model, promising a unified approach to bus travel aimed at delivering value for money to travellers and increased efficiency.
Simon Lewis, 47, a frequent bus user aged from Burley Park, welcomes these plans. He said: “At present, we have bus drivers intentionally arriving late or not showing up at all, seemingly to exert pressure on the authorities. I believe that taking back control is the only way forward.”