Disgruntled passengers have called for cheaper fares and increased service reliability to get people back on to the buses.
The pleas came following the launch of an inquiry into bus services by Leeds City Council’s sustainable economy and culture scrutiny board.
As reported in yesterday’s Yorkshire Evening Post, figures presented to the inquiry’s first session showed the number of bus journeys made in West Yorkshire had slumped from 235m in 1995-96 to an estimated 180m in 2011-12, while between 2004-10 the average adult peak fare for all operators rose by 54 per cent – more than double the rate of inflation during the same period.
The decline in bus journeys was no surprise to some people, who used social networking site Twitter to offer their own views on the bus services issue.
Helen Young tweeted there was no incentive to use the buses as they were just as expensive as the car.
Amy Hemingway said the decline was because “they are too expensive, overcrowded and never seem to run on time”.
Joe Milner agreed fares were an issue. He said: “They are expensive – £2 from Street Lane to Chapel Allerton, £2.80 to town. Cheaper to drive.”
Ben Cooper’s verdict on the buses was damning: “Dirty, overcrowded and expensive.”
Chris Marrows argued they were “shockingly unreliable and expensive”.
Dave Alexander, First Bus regional managing director, said: “We acknowledge that between 2004 and 2012 First has increased its average fare by 43 per cent whilst retail price index increases amount to around 28 per cent.
“However, costs for bus operators have risen by 55 per cent over the same period.
“We have managed to off-set many of the cost increases through efficiencies and volume growth.
“Every effort is being made to introduce better value for money ticketing and we look forward to working with Leeds City Council to develop effective bus priority schemes that will stimulate growth of bus journeys in Leeds.
“We look forward to contributing to the consultation process as part of this inquiry.”
The scrutiny board will hold a further evidence-gathering session of its inquiry before producing a report and recommendations on how greater bus use can be encouraged.