New plan to radically improve West Yorkshire’s bus services

Cheaper and simpler fares, reduced journey times, improved punctuality, new routes, mobile digital tickets, improved safety plus better travel information are all part of a new plan to improve West Yorkshire’s bus services.

West Yorkshire’s Bus Services Improvement Plan (BSIP) will be discussed at a meeting of the Combined Authority this Friday (22 Oct). If approved, it will be submitted to government at the end of October. The BSIP also contains a new passenger charter. This includes a journey satisfaction guarantee which means if passengers are not happy with the service, they receive their money back or their next journey for free.  

It will result in improved, more inclusive customer service and support – so all passengers have the rights tools to travel with confidence and the help they need if their journey does not go to plan. The charter will include a ‘last journey promise.’  where, if the final bus service of the day on a route is late or cancelled, taxi fares will be reimbursed.

The BSIP aims to encourage more people in the region to travel by bus, improve bus travel experience, and enhance transport connectivity. The plan seeks to reduce average bus journey times by 5% in the next four years, and by 10% by 2030 by enabling buses to move through traffic more freely. It also aims to improve bus punctuality to 90% by March 2025 (from 82% in March 2019). These improvements are planned to increase bus usage by 6% by 2025.

An increase in the number bus services and routes is another element of the BSIP. The aim is for more bus routes to operate every 15 minutes or more frequently. More early morning and evening services are planned to help families with children, shift workers and people working in the night time economy.

Bus fares in West Yorkshire will be simplified as part of the BSIP, so people can purchase one ticket regardless of which bus company provides the service. Prices will be regularly reviewed in line with the cost of living. The maximum price for a day’s travel in West Yorkshire will be capped at £5.50.

A “tap and go” system will be introduced next year which means passengers are charged the best price for their journey and never more than this daily cap. The MCard Mobile app introduced earlier this year will be expanded to enable people to plan journeys, buy bus tickets and obtain live travel information throughout the West Yorkshire bus network. West Yorkshire’s BSIP has a commitment to a carbon-zero bus fleet by 2036, and all buses will be Euro VI or zero emission by 2026.

The BSIP also contains details of an Enhanced Safer Travel West Yorkshire partnership with West Yorkshire Police, to make bus travel safer for everyone, including women and girls. This will include enhanced lighting and CCTV at bus stops. All customer facing staff, including drivers and customer service teams will also receive enhanced training to ensure the highest quality service is provided.

Improvements to bus stations in Halifax, Leeds, Huddersfield, and Dewsbury are also planned, as well as improvements to bus lanes and bus ‘priority’ on West Yorkshire’s roads.  

The BSIP has been produced in partnership with bus operators and local authorities in response to the government’s National Bus Strategy. The Combined Authority will be bidding for a share of £3 billion from the Department for Transport, to deliver the BSIP. Following the submission of the plan at the end of this October, confirmation of funding is expected in early 2022. 

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

“Our new, ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan is a major step towards my pledge to bring buses back under public control, introduce simpler fares, contactless ticketing and safer, greener buses.

“The plan has a clear focus on the passenger and the experience they should expect when they travel. We want buses to be the first choice for travel in West Yorkshire - not because you don’t have a car, but because they’re more affordable, convenient to use, and better for the environment. 

“This plan will also contribute to inclusive growth and improving travel safety for women and girls “.