Mayor to introduce free bus service to hospital as Arriva bus strikes continue across West Yorkshire

Mayor Tracy Brabin is to offer free shuttle services to Pinderfields Hospital from the centre of Wakefield next week as Arriva bus driver continue to strike.

The services will come into effect from Monday (June 13), helping people to reach appointments or to visit friends and family.

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The move comes with no Arriva buses running 'indefinitely' across Leeds and Yorkshire as bus drivers go on strike over pay.

The move comes with no Arriva buses running 'indefinitely' across Leeds and Yorkshire as bus drivers go on strike over pay. Picture: PA.

The industrial action by Unite members started at 2am on Monday (June 6) and is to last for 'for an undisclosed period of time'.

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, said: “This continuing strike is causing real hardship to people across Wakefield, Dewsbury and Batley. As someone who regularly uses the bus network, I know that buses are at the heart of our communities and hear people’s frustrations - not everyone can afford a taxi, has access to a car or to a lift share scheme, and even if they did the cost of petrol now makes it too costly to drive.

“Bus services in England outside London are run by individual operators, not by local government, so our powers to intervene are limited. However, due to the prolonged action and the need for communities to access vital public services, we are introducing a free shuttle bus service from Wakefield Bus Station to Pinderfields Hospital. This will mean people can reach essential hospital appointments or visit family and friends."

Arriva and Unite continue to dispute the reasons behind the strike with the bus company rejecting claims that their pay offer was just a 4.1 per cent increase.

Arriva has repeated its request to Unite’s leadership to immediately end the strike so that their union members can vote on the pay offer claiming that they instead offered figures of between a 7 and 12.5 per cent pay increase.

Mayor Brabin has been involved in discussions with both sides in the hope that an agreement can soon be reached.

“Like many people across our region, I would like to see these issues resolved as soon as possible," she said.

"I’ve met with both Arriva Yorkshire and Unite to urge them to come to an agreement for the benefit of passengers, bus drivers, the company and those local businesses that rely on people being able to get to work or get to the shops.”

Speaking to the YEP this week, Phil Bown, Unite's regional officer, apologised for the disruption to passengers but said drivers have no intention of standing down.

"The passengers are collateral damage which is unfortunate. I do feel sorry for them and I want to apologise for the inconvenience but my members can't continue putting up with what they do," he said.

"We have been trying to resolve this for eight months without hurting passengers but Arriva aren't interested. They are the ones that have caused the strike, no one else."

The strikes continue to cause significant disruption, with no bus services across the region until the industrial action ends.