Bus industry plan may be way forward - Leeds City Council

Council bosses in Leeds have thrown their weight behind the development of proposals for a West Yorkshire-wide bus industry revolution.

Metro, the county's publicly-funded passenger transport authority, is currently working on plans for a new 'quality bus contract' scheme.

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It would give Metro the final say on local routes, fares and frequencies – matters that, at present, are decided by profit-driven operators.

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An update on the progress of the project will be given to Leeds City Council's powerful executive board tomorrow.

And a report compiled for board members ahead of the meeting reveals

that the council is "supportive" of the steps being taken by Metro to develop the scheme.

The report says the authority "looks forward to having the opportunity of examining further detailed proposals, particularly the financial implications, when they are available".

Metro's quality contract plans are also being backed by recently-launched Leeds-based transport campaign group Fair Fares For All.

However, the city's biggest bus operator, First, has put forward an alternative proposal for a halfway house partnership agreement.

It would hand Metro and local councils more influence on issues like fares without removing First from the decision-making process altogether.

First says that, under its system, ticket price and network changes would only take place once every 12 months.

Metro is due to carry out a major public consultation exercise on its quality contract plans this year.

Should the results prove favourable, the scheme could be up-and-running in some parts of West Yorkshire by late 2012.

If operators oppose its introduction, it could still be forced through

with Department for Transport backing.

* The executive report also outlines complaints raised by Morley Town Council about unreliable bus services and timetable changes in its area.

The report says one area of concern will be addressed when a new operator, Yorkshire Line, starts running half-hourly services between the middle of Morley, Leeds city centre and St James's Hospital from January 31.

Shilton Flynn.

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