Bus operators will be “the authors of their own demise” if they keep changing timetables
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Members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee said the “constant tinkering” of timetables was leaving passengers frustrated, and could lead to many ditching public transport for good.
In response to plummeting passenger numbers in the pandemic, Government pumped millions of pounds of funding into services to keep them afloat.
That cash was due to end in April, but earlier this month Government announced that the funding would be continued until October.
But routes were still bringing in less than they were before the pandemic, and some operators were reducing services to compensate.
Plans are underway to bring West Yorkshire’s bus network under public control, although it has been acknowledged this would be a years long process.
Members of the Transport Committee fear that before that happens there are many pressing short term problems on the local network, including operators reducing the frequency of services, or dropping some routes altogether.
These issues could turn people off from travelling by bus for good.
Coun Allan Garbutt said: “We need to get some stability back on the bus network, and The real concern is bus operators shrinking their activities, and the communities suffering the consequences of that.”
Coun Charlie Keith said: “There is a constant tinkering of bus timetables that undermines the people who use the service.
“Running buses on a profit rather than providing a public service is, I’m concerned, something that will have a long term impact.
“If you’re waiting for an 8am bus and it doesn’t arrive until 9.30am them you’ll never do that again.
“If we want the bus to be an acceptable alternative to using the car, someone has to say ”this has to stop’ or we’ll never get people to stand at a bus stop again.”
Dave Pearson, Director of Transport on the Combined Authority, said: “We have submitted our plans to improve the bus service and bring it back to being viable, but there are still short term issues, and these issues are damaging confidence in the bus service across West Yorkshire.”
Coun Kim Groves described it as a “perfect storm” – as many rural routes were already at risk of being axed before the Pandemic.
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