Leeds residents and councillors launch petition after First Bus axes X26 and X27 bus services

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Councillors in east Leeds have launched a petition to save bus services in Cross Gates, Whinmoor and Temple Newsam.

The X26 and X27 services were scrapped by the First Group bus provider in October, leaving residents, workers and local businesses with less connections to local retail centres. Councillors from across Leeds have now reacted with a widely supported petition and a proposed replacement service for the cancelled routes.

Commenting on the service cancellations, councillor James Gibson said: “We were particularly upset when First Bus announced that they have taken the decision to cut their X26/ X27 buses. Unfortunately, as local councillors we were not consulted before this announcement. If First had approached us, we would have detailed just how important these local bus services are to workers and shoppers alike.

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"The decision to cut these routes is just another blow to a sector already in a fight for survival during a cost-of-living crisis.”

Pictured: Coun James GibsonPictured: Coun James Gibson
Pictured: Coun James Gibson

The cancelled bus services had previously offered routes to Colton Retail Park, Cross Gates Centre and Thorpe Park across Leeds. Locals have raised concerns about how the scrapping of these services will impact the local economy.

“It’s no secret that our high streets and shopping centres have had it hard over the past two decades,” Cllr Gibson went on to say.

"Online shopping, the global economic crisis and the Covid pandemic have all taken their toll. Unfortunately, we’ve seen some treasured retailers leave our local area as a result. But the importance of our economic and social centres cannot be underestimated. Preserving our high streets, shopping centres and leisure areas must be a priority.”

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Responding to the cancellation of the X26 and X27, Paul Matthews, managing director of First West Yorkshire, said: “Our services continue to adapt to changing travel behaviour and a new post-pandemic level of demand, with a significant downturn in passenger numbers for certain routes. The trend is clear from our data that passengers do not use the X26 and X27 services in sufficient numbers and are unlikely to return in the future.

“We have looked carefully at how we can help to maintain connections and have adapted the 19 and 19A route to serve Thorpe Park at peak times during the day. Customers can also take advantage of the FlexiBus service, which we operate on behalf of the Combined Authority. This provides good connections to Thorpe Park from local areas including Cross Gates, Whinmoor and Temple Newsam.

“The changes we have introduced are part of an ongoing review of our whole network together with the Combined Authority, which is a condition of the Government support funding measures. We recognise the impact changes will have in parts of the community and are sorry for anyone affected.

“It is also important that we focus our resources where the demand is needed given the ongoing issue of driver shortages and the importance for customers that we can provide the most reliable services across the network we operate.

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“We will continue to monitor our networks as part of our full cooperation with the Combined Authority’s broader network review with a view to being agile and ready to adapt frequencies and connections in line with customer demand.”