Just the ticket! Work is set to start on multi-million pound bus system improvements in Leeds
Work is poised to get under way on a multi-million pound series of schemes designed to put Leeds's bus services on the road to a brighter future.
Plans for the sweeping range of road infrastructure improvements have been in the pipeline since the launch of the city's Connecting Leeds transport strategy a year ago.
Now civic chiefs have confirmed that work will begin in "the next few weeks" on an expansion of the park-and-ride site at Elland Road as well as improvements to routes including the A660 (Holt Lane) and A61 (Moortown Corner).
Improvement work on the A61 heading south out of the city centre is scheduled to start over the summer, along with the construction of a new 1,200-space park-and-ride site at Stourton.
And, later in the year, work is set to begin on a dedicated bus lane and junction alterations that will cut journey times on the A647 Leeds to Bradford corridor.
Connecting Leeds brings together Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) with bus operators First Leeds, Arriva Yorkshire and Transdev.
Hailing the progress that has been made since the launch of the strategy, Coun Richard Lewis, the council's executive member for transport, regeneration and planning, said: “Like every major city in the UK, journeys are taking longer and longer.
"We can only reverse this trend by enticing some motorists onto the bus. The aim of Connecting Leeds is to make public transport an attractive option that is reliable, quick, comfortable and environmentally cleaner than the car.
"Whether it's through the expansion of park-and-ride or our planned bus corridor improvements, we're confident that we can get more people onto the bus.”
WYCA transport committee chair Coun Kim Groves added: “These significant road improvement schemes will reduce congestion hotspots and make buses more reliable and punctual, as well as improving local air quality.
“There will inevitably be some disruption while this work is carried out but we are working with bus companies and other partners to ensure inconvenience is kept to a minimum and that passengers are kept informed.”
The Connecting Leeds strategy also includes plans for new railway stations at Leeds Bradford Airport, Thorpe Park and the White Rose Centre.
Part of the funding for the various schemes is coming from money left over following the cancellation of Leeds's trolleybus proposals.
Calls for improvements to the city's bus system gained new impetus in 2017 after council leader Coun Judith Blake revealed “heartbreaking stories” of residents in her ward losing jobs due to services frequently running late.