Greater Manchester bus plan "exactly what we need" in West Yorkshire, says Tracy Brabin

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Greater Manchester's plans to bring buses under local control is "exactly what we need here", according to a West Yorkshire mayoral candidate.

Across the Pennines, buses are being brought back under local authority control for the first time since deregulation in the 1980s, mayor Andy Burnham announced yesterday (Thursday).

Local control will mean simple fares and tickets with price capping, integration between trams and buses, and a “one-stop-shop” for travel information and customer support, it is claimed.

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Buses in the region are going to be run under a franchising system from 2023 onwards, whereby the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will co-ordinate the bus network and contract bus companies to run the services, similar to how it works in London.

Leeds bus station.Leeds bus station.
Leeds bus station.

There have been repeated calls over the years for a radical overhaul of Leeds and West Yorkshire s bus services, with many claiming the city had been ‘"failed" by three decades of buses being run by private businesses.

Greater Manchester has had a mayor since 2015, but West Yorkshire is set to elect one for the first time on May 6.

Labour's candidate, Tracy Brabin, said: "Public transport has to work for local people, and what Andy Burnham has announced in Manchester is exactly what we need here.

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"I’ll be looking at imaginative solutions to make sure public transport works for people not profit and ensure that ticketing is integrated across the network.”

Ms Brabin, currently MP for Batley and Spen, added: "The new mayor’s powers offer a unique opportunity to make a real difference on transport.

"We must be ambitious and deliver transport fit for the 21st century. Better connectivity, investment in rail, more reliable public transport, simpler fares and greener vehicles.

"As mayor, I will step in where the government has failed and tackle their lack of ambition. I will sort out the mess they’ve made of bus services and fight for the rail infrastructure that has been promised but not delivered."

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Gareth Forest, the TUC’s Better Buses for Yorkshire campaigner, said: "“Now that Manchester has cleared the way, Yorkshire’s mayoral and combined authorities can begin their own franchising process with the peace of mind that they will not be alone.

“We look forward to the new West Yorkshire mayor setting out their plans to bring buses back into public control.

“Ending the wild west free market for bus services in Yorkshire will be a huge first step to delivering better public services for our communities, and doing our bit for the climate."

Mr Forest explained why he felt the local ownership model was better than having private operators like First and Arriva - which run around 80 per cent of the buses in the district between them - make decisions about the network.

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“Public control means more services, better buses, lower fares, and a democratic voice on how our buses are run," he said.

“Right now, as bus users in Yorkshire we are at the whim of private shareholders. That is just not right.

“We need our buses back in public control as a first step to public ownership.”

Across West Yorkshire, around 180-185 million bus journeys are carried out every year, but this has been dropping consistently over the past 20 years.

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Matthew Robinson, the Conservative candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor, said: “A number of people are emailing and contacting me about improving our buses and transport system.

"I’m committed to linking up public transport so passengers can get a seat on a train or bus that’s clean, green and on time.

"I’m making that pledge as I want to cut congestion, connect up our communities across West Yorkshire and all without the need for a congestion charge.”

- The West Yorkshire Mayoral election takes place on Thursday, May 6. The other candidates running are:

Andrew Cooper (Green Party)

Bob Buxton (Yorkshire Party)

Stewart Golton (Liberal Democrats)

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