Young people become ‘mystery shoppers’ on Leeds buses, meeting hears

Young people in Leeds are being used as “mystery shoppers” on the city’s buses as part of attempts by Leeds City Council to make public transport more child friendly.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 11:45 am

A meeting also heard how work was being done to make sure bus drivers behaved in an appropriate manner towards young customers.

The plans were discussed at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s children’s scrutiny board as part of its efforts to make the city a better place for children to live.

A report put before councillors outlined 13 recommendations to help Leeds become a more “child friendly” city, one of which included a mystery shopper survey by young people that is already under way.

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The council says it wants to make public transport in the city more "child-friendly".

It was added that some of the young people involved were meeting with bus companies this week to discuss how to improve services for young people.

A council officer told the meeting: “We are looking at the whole experience of public transport for young people in the city.

“Some of the things operators have taken on board is around affordable fares. I am keen we ensure bus drivers are child friendly, so they behave appropriately with young people.

“With this evening’s event, we will start to move that forward.”

Head of children’s services Steve Walker said: “I think the way we achieve that is encouraging people from an early age to use the bus and making sure there is accessible public transport and making sure it goes where people want it to go. It is the time to push on this issue.

“Giving a voice to children and young people is an important way of changing behaviours for patterns of usage and patterns of buses in the city.”

The report, put together by council officers, stated: “A ‘mystery shopper’ survey by young people is now underway, through an app on smart phones which can be completed in real time during public transport journeys. This was recently launched and we will have data in the near future.

“Members of the Youth Council are meeting with senior executives from the main bus operators in Leeds on 27th November to feedback and agree next steps.”

Coun Denise Ragan (Lab) asked: “Is it linking into the areas of the city that don’t have public transport? Cross Green has no transport links but children need to travel to schools.”

A council officer said: “We will be looking at public transport. We will feed in your comment about those areas which have fewer available transport links.”