Publicly-run buses one step closer as mayor intervenes

The new Mayor of West Yorkshire has today vowed to continue work to bring West Yorkshire’s buses back into public ownership.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 3:21 pm
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 3:22 pm

Tracy Brabin who was elected over the weekend, also called for a so-called “Enhanced Bus Partnership”, which would unlock a share of £3bn the Government has made available to support bus services during the recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is hoped the move would give the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) much greater control over how public money is used to support services, fares and information available to passengers.

Speaking at an informal meeting of the Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, mayor Tracy Brabin said she was committed to ultimately franchising the region’s bus services.

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Tracy Brabin wants to bring West Yorkshire's buses back in house.

She said: “I told the people of West Yorkshire that improving our buses through greater public control would be a priority and I am really excited that today, in my first week in office, I have started delivering on that commitment.

“I want us to make sure we are accessing the funding and the powers that are available to make improvements for passengers as quickly as possible.

“As someone taking the bus to work every day I share the frustrations of passengers in many of our communities and the course I’ve set today will give passengers a much stronger voice in the way services are run while unlocking funding to drive up standards.

“However, I am also clear incremental change is not enough and we will also be urgently progressing the detailed work that needs to be done to make the case for bus franchising.”

It follows work done by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) in 2019 to look at the possibility of taking some of the region’s struggling bus services in-house in the future.

The region then obtained further powers to take on public transport through its mayoral devolution deal.

A document discussed by members of WYCA said the authority would now have the ‘full range of powers’ to put a business case forward.

Local authorities like Leeds City Council have been unable to run buses since the Transport Act of 1986, which deregulated the sector and led to private companies running services.