An overhaul of bus services in Leeds has been announced by council chiefs in the second wave of a £270m transport masterplan.
The latest proposals, unveiled today by Leeds City Council, include a £71m investment from city bus operator First to introduce 284 new low-emission buses to its fleet by 2020.
And there are also plans for new park and rides at Stourton and in North Leeds, as well upgrades to Leeds Bus Station and a priority for more than 90 per cent of services to run every 10 minutes or less.
It comes after the council yesterday revealed plans for new railway stations near Leeds Bradford Airport, White Rose Shopping Centre and Thorpe Park – as part of the Leeds Transport Strategy.
Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, said: “I think any new sort of investment that we get to see in our bus services is really important because we have got to come up with improvements to deal with transport problems.
“I think the problem has been – especially from complaints in my constituency – about reliability, and anything that improves that is obviously welcomed.
“But I think this needs to be step one of a game changer of how we deal with transport in Leeds.”
The transport strategy will be considered by the council’s Executive Board next Wednesday.
Around £110m will be invested into bus infrastructure improvements – separate from First’s pledge – which will be part-funded by cash from Leeds’s failed Next Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus scheme, Section 106 agreement money and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
And Mr Andrew warned that council and transport bosses also need to consider a long-term rapid transit system for the future.
Other proposed upgrades in include additional bus priority measures on “key corridors” at the A61, A660, A58 and A647 to ease congestion.
Also among the announcements is expansion of the Elland Road park and ride, improved ticketing technology, on-board wi-fi and upgraded real-time information displays at stops.
Stuart Long, a national campaigner for bus improvements in Leeds, said: “I overall welcome the fact that improvements are coming, but it’s a shame that the public has had to have such dire traffic conditions under the current and previous council administrations. At the Elland Road park and ride we seem to be investing heavily in one place and that is not helping the rest of the city.
“We are putting all our eggs in one basket, but we should be looking at the entire situation. How do people get to the park and ride when they can’t get out of their own street?”
Coun Judith Blake, leader of the council, said: “We know bus travel is an essential way of getting around in Leeds and people have told us they want to see improved services, infrastructure and capacity. They also want to see improvements quickly, alongside longer term proposals.
“Together with First West Yorkshire, bus operators and partners in the city, we have set out the ambitious aim of doubling the number of people using the bus in the next 10 years along with improving air quality.”