A document, which is set to go before regional decision-makers next week, claims the usage of public transport has recovered “significantly” for weekends, suggesting passengers in the region are using the services for leisure trips, rather than for commuting.
But it added that bus operators currently have vacancies for around one in 10 drivers’ jobs – twice what they would normally have – and recruiting new drivers was proving “challenging”.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Network Update stated: “The recovery of travel demand is stronger in weekend and leisure travel together with journeys to education. Many organisations are continuing to support working from home, and this is reducing peak demand especially on public transport.
“Shortages of bus, taxis and HGV drivers are having an effect both on public transport reliance and supply chains nationally and locally.”
It also claimed service reliability was impacted by the “reduced availability” of bus drivers and engineers, stating: “There are national issues regarding high driver turnover and delays in public service vehicle (PSV) licences which have impacted on service delivery locally.”
The report follows an announcement this week from bus operator Arriva that it was scrapping its 205 service, which operates between Dewsbury, Pudsey and Morley.
It added that work was needed to make sure fewer people used personal cars and that “active travel”, such as walking and cycling, now appears to be more popular than before the pandemic.
The document concluded: “The general picture on bus and rail services remains one of a steady recovery as commuter demand slowly build, with the return to work following the summer break seeing increases.
“In general, recovery of the bus network continues more strongly than rail, although locally both modes are now at their busiest since before the pandemic. Usage remains higher at weekends, particularly for rail, indicating a stronger return of leisure trips and this is reflected in town / city centre footfall.”
The paper will be discussed at a meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee on Friday November 5.
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