Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy aims to make city 'brilliant for the bus'

Making Leeds "brilliant for the bus" is one of the central planks of a council vision for transport that aims to take the city to a point where cars are no longer a necessity.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 4:45 pm

Improving existing public transport systems in Leeds is naturally included as one of the six 'big moves' in the draft Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy currently out to public consultation.

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Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy sets out vision for city without the need fo...

It says the Leeds City Council would support the development and expansion of the rail network, making more stations more accessible with more facilities.

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Leeds City Council wants to increase the number of bus passengers by 130 per centover the next 10 years. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

But the focus is very much on the benefits that could be derived from greater bus use in terms of reducing congestion and meeting the ambitious goal of Leeds becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030 - two decades ahead of the national target of 2050.

The strategy says: "We want Leeds to be brilliant for the bus with a bus network that connects everyone and everything. The bus plays a unique role in the life of Leeds being the most accessible and well used form of public transport.

"We want to provide the widest and most dense accessible local bus network complemented by a holistic park and ride offer to make Leeds a city where you don’t need a car."

There are challenges to overcome though, not least the steady decline in bus use over the past 20 years that is highlighted in the strategy.

It says: "Reversing the decline will lead to more services being provided and will help fund further improvements. Both of these will further attract more passengers to use bus services and help us achieve the target to grow the number of bus passengers by 130 per cent over the next 10 years."

The strategy notes that between 18 and 23 per cent of car users say they could be encouraged to switch to buses if services were quicker and more reliable. But until more of those people make the switch and the number of cars on the road is reduced, the congestion that contributes to higher bus journey times is likely to persist.

According to the document, the council will continue to work with West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to create a bus system that is an "attractive and natural choice for everyone".

It will upgrade key bus corridors to provide fast and reliable high frequency services, develop its park and ride offer on key routes across the city, and promote "demand responsive" transport services to offer flexibility and connectivity in areas not well served by traditional bus services.

The council says it will create a "seamless" public transport network with integrated ticketing and payment options, while acknowledging that it may also need to consider how it can work with WYCA to provide reasonably priced fares that further encourages people to choose the bus.

The public consultation comes a year on from the launch of the Yorkshire Evening Post's Unlock the Gridlock campaign, which set out five key transport priorities in response to concerns consistently raised by readers about the congestion and unreliable public transport networks that were blighting their lives on a daily basis.

It will run until March 26, before the feedback from the public and other stakeholders is reviewed. An updated strategy is then expected to be published in early summer.

Visit leedstransportstrategy.commonplace.is/ to learn more about the proposals, read the draft strategy in full or make comments.

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