'˜Leeds buses are getting better', council watchdog set to be told

A watchdog which led a major inquiry into bus provision in Leeds - and helped kickstart an overhaul of services which has led to the recent introduction of contactless ticketing and other innovations - will meet this week to track if and how the city is moving better as a result.

Monday, 26th February 2018, 1:26 pm
Updated Monday, 26th February 2018, 1:30 pm
Date: 19th February 2018. Picture James Hardisty. Transport Series, pictured buses, travelling along the Headrow, Leeds City Centre.

A meeting of Leeds City Council’s cross-party Infrastructure and Investment scrutiny panel is set to hear about how well the city’s and the region’s bus operators are fulfilling a number of pledges made almost exactly a year ago, including bringing in smarter, more efficient ticketing, a £1m programme to deal with reliability ‘hotspots’ and air pollution.

The panel had previously issued its own nine point action plan on how bus provision in the city could be improved.

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Wednesday’s meeting will hear about Bus 18, an informal partnership between regional supercouncil the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and bus operators, which has been put in place in the last few months, and which will ultimately help determine the most appropriate use of the powers in the new Bus Services Act for the region.

A consultation with the public on better bus services is also launching next month.

A report to be presented to the panel stresses the need to “enhance the responsiveness and accountability of bus operators to local communities”, as well as to “open up the bus service market to new competitors and to promote competition in Leeds and the West Yorkshire region”.

The meeting will be told that recent “short term actions” are “aimed at making buses easier to use, enhancing the customer experience and supporting the need to improve emissions from

buses”.

The final aim, a report to the panel says, is to “learn the lessons for the future from this shorter term programme”.

The Bus 18 initiative was formally launched in March last year when the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the bus operators made a number of pledges to make buses easy to use, including developing a simpler bus network with fewer changes, more reliable services and introducing more environmentally friendly buses with less emissions to improve air quality.

LEEDS AND BUSES - SOME KEY NUMBERS

15% of people in Leeds travel to work by bus (just 5% by train)

250,000 - bus journeys are currently made every day in Leeds

Transport bosses want to increase bus passenger numbers by 25% in the next 10 years

£180m is being invested into better bus travel in Leeds.

231 new buses in West Yorkshire being ‘retrofitted’ with new clean air technology - 75 in Leeds alone.