I would like to assure Janet Bailey and your readers that I am very clear what I want and that is the kind of integrated transport system that improves life for the people of West Yorkshire and supports the local economy.
That is why Metro has developed and gained Government approval for the NGT trolleybus scheme, the new southern entrance to provide much-needed extra capacity at Leeds Station and additional rail stations at Kirkstall Forge, Apperley Bridge and Low Moor.
It is why we want to see tram-trains serving Leeds Bradford Airport and providing better city centre access, why we are working towards a new, locally-managed franchise for rail across the North and a new more locally-accountable framework within which our bus services are organised. We need all these elements in place to ensure that West Yorkshire and the City Region can benefit fully from the arrival of high-speed rail.
Leeds did, as Janet Bailey rightly points out, aim for a tram system but when the previous Government made it clear that despite the various revised business cases we presented and a high-profile campaign to save it, funding would only be available for a bus-based transport system and not a tram, we initiated the work which has resulted in NGT.
Neither I nor Metro lack ambition but by allocating transport spending in Yorkshire & Humber region at just £276 per head annually, compared with £774 in London, the Department for Transport has made it very clear that it has no intention of funding an underground system. A ‘can do’ attitude would be no excuse, in these austere times, for wasting millions of pounds of public money pursuing one.
Kieran Preston, Director General, Metro