Leeds transport system among Britain's worst as civic chiefs warn city could be "left behind"

Civic chiefs have warned that Leeds risks being "left behind", as new figures reveal the city's public transport system is one of the worst-performing in the UK, according to latest figures released this week.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 4:45 am

Just 38 per cent of people in Leeds can reach the city centre by public transport in under 30 minutes, research by the Centre for Cities shows.

Read More

Read More
'Oyster Card' tap and go system on Leeds buses submitted to government for appro...

The city ranks in the bottom three of the UK's biggest, outside of London for speed of city centre commutes.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Leeds ranks in the bottom three of the UK's biggest, outside of London for speed of city centre commutes. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

In Bristol, 48 per cent of commuters could reach the centre in under 30 minutes, while in Glasgow, the figure stood at 53 per cent.

Some £5.7bn was promised towards levelling up on urban transport as part of last week's Budget unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

However, Paul Swinney, Centre for Cities Director of Policy and Research, has warned that the boost will not be enough after years of underinvestment.

He said: "The money pledged as part of the Budget is a step in the right direction to try and close the gap but it's just the first step of a long journey."

"The almost £6bn pledged so far is great but really we are looking at needing upwards of £30bn."

The UK commuter statistics are significantly worse than their counterparts in big European cities,where almost seven out of 10 people can travel to their city centre in less than 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, Leeds continues to be the biggest city in Western Europe without a tram or mass transit system.

Mr Swinney added: "The first question you have to ask is what is the most appropriate form of transport?

"And I think the numbers show that people quite quickly gravitate towards trams and trains whilst improving the bus network is seen as a lot less fashionable."

One major omission from the Government's Budget was the controversial HS2 rail upgrade.

Speaking to the YEP, Coun James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We welcome any additional investment in transport in Leeds and West Yorkshire, but there can be no ‘infrastructure revolution’ if the Government fails to commit to both the HS2 Eastern Leg and Northern Powerhouse Rail. Without both our city will be left behind and will miss out on much needed jobs and investment.

"It is also clear that the funding allocated in the recent budget will make little difference, as it actually includes funding for maintenance and pot holes that people would have expected in any normal budget.”

Leeds is currently undergoing a transport upgrade as part of a wider West Yorkshire push to move the public away from their cars and onto public transport, with schemes under way including the council's Connecting Leeds project and bus improvements by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Case study

A case study comparing Leeds to the popular French city of Marseille found:

Leeds and Marseille have a similar population but Marseille is far denser than Leeds.

Because of this, 87 per cent of people living in Marseille can reach the centre in 30 minutes by public transport, compared to 38 per cent in Leeds.

People are more spread out in Leeds compared to Marseille. But if Leeds’ public transport network was improved to cover the same area as the French city, it would increase the share of people who can reach the centre to 61 per cent, narrowing but not closing the gap with Marseille.

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.