Transport firm backing rival to Leeds trolleybus plan

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TRANSPORT giant First has embarked on the latest stage of its push to win public support for a scheme that it says offers an alternative to Leeds’s trolleybus plans.

As previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, First is proposing a package of measures designed to deliver a “radically improved” bus service across West Yorkshire.

It says steps such as the introduction in Leeds of buses modelled on London’s Routemaster double-deckers would achieve greater benefits than the city’s £250m New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus project at a fraction of the cost.

Now First, the biggest bus company in Leeds, has launched a series of consultation events so it can get people’s views on its plans.

A Routemaster will be parked on Russell Street in Halifax town centre from 10am to 4pm today.

It will then be in place outside the main entrance to Halifax’s Eureka! museum from 10am to 4pm tomorrow.

Further events are being organised in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield next month.

First’s New Bus proposals also include smartcard tickets similar to those used by London’s Oyster system as well as road infrastructure changes to speed up journeys.

Paul Turner, head of commercial for First West Yorkshire, said: “We want the public to let us know what they think of the New Bus package of proposals so that we can consider how they might be introduced.”

First is among the objectors to NGT giving evidence this week at the public inquiry that will determine the fate of the trolleybus scheme, backed by Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The Government will decide whether to approve the project after receiving a report on the inquiry’s findings. NGT would link Holt Park in the north of Leeds with Stourton in the south on a network powered electrically by overhead wires.

Supporters of the scheme say it would give the city’s economy a huge boost while critics claim it would provide poor value for money.

First says if NGT does get the green light, then it will be harder for it to justify investing in the Routemaster-style fleet as trolleybuses would be operating in direct competition to the new road vehicles.