People in West Yorkshire are being ‘failed’ over lack of mass transit system, claims transport chief

Regional leaders have hailed the benefits of mass transit, claiming its absence is holding Leeds back from achieving its potential.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 6:00 am

In a webinar on the future transport strategy in West Yorkshire, Coun Kim Groves said that the region should not be held back by its past failures with its Supertram and Trolleybus projects.

But she warned that not pressing ahead with plans to complete a West Yorkshire mass transit system by 2040 would mean people in the region would continue to be “failed”.

Speaking at an online meeting on West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Connectivity Infrastructure Plan, she said: “We all know that we’ve been here before. We need to meet the needs – if we don’t get this right, there is a big cost to be paid, both in health and inequalities.

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Leeds needs a mass transit system, claims Coun Kim Groves.

“We have to keep persevering with this. We can’t afford not to move forward and have mass transit. We are going to go for that bid in 2022 and we need to build a robust case.

“Wherever I go, I get asked why Leeds doesn’t have a mass transit system. We are big contributors to the economy so we need one. People are being failed by not having the mass transit system we need.”

Plans released earlier this year include nine potential lines, with dozens of stops, including Leeds Bradford Airport, Leeds General Infirmary, St James’s Hospital, Elland Road and the White Rose Centre. Unlike previous proposals, the scheme covers the whole of the region, stretching to Huddersfield, Halifax, Pontefract, Bradford and Wakefield.

Construction could start on lines as early as 2025, with priority given to lines in and around Leeds. If all goes to plan, the final scheme could be completed at early as 2040.

An outline business case is expected to be submitted to government by next year, in the hopes of getting a share of a £4.2bn fund set aside for transport.

Plans to build a £250m trolley bus network in Leeds were scrapped at the eleventh hour by Government in 2016, after a report from a planning inspector said the scheme was “not in the public interest”. It followed two other failed Leeds schemes devised in the late 1980s and late 1990s.

It had been hoped that, by 2018, electric buses powered by overhead wires would be running across the city on a north/south route every six minutes during peak times.

But this was scrapped four years later when transport minister Lord Ahmad accepted a planning inspector’s recommendation the scheme should not go ahead.

More than £70m had been spent on the trolleybus scheme and its predecessor Supertram.