Transport leaders approve £3.8 million for protecting and restoring bus services across West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire Combined Authority will spend £3.8 million on protecting and reinstating bus services under threat.

07 July 2023

A total of £3.8 million is to be spent by West Yorkshire Combined Authority on protecting and reinstating bus services that are under threat due to cuts by private operators.

Councillors on the Transport Committee agreed to the move at a meeting in Leeds today (Friday).

The region’s buses are run primarily on a commercial basis by bus companies – supported by the Combined Authority on non-profitable routes.

Changes to post-Covid travel patterns have hit revenues, leading operators to cut back on routes and frequencies.

The Combined Authority has increasingly stepped in over the last few years to prop up the network where commercial operators have failed – but is unable to save every route.

And recent changes to the way government helps fund buses have led to fears operators will withdraw further services in the coming months.

The Combined Authority is pushing them to delay making changes so that replacement services can be procured.

Transport Committee members agreed to green-light the £3.8 million of BSIP (Bus Service Improvement Plan) Plus money to protect services that are under threat and restore routes that have been lost due to historic cuts.

The Combined Authority is urging the government to release the funding as soon as possible so it can be spent on services as quickly as possible.

It has also been working with private operators to try to mitigate the impact of recently announced changes to timetables.

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said:

“A well-functioning bus network is a vital part of my vision for a better-connected West Yorkshire.

“This money will help protect the network where the market has failed.

“In the meantime, I would urge bus operators to work with us to avoid cutting back further on much needed bus services.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council and Transport portfolio lead for West Yorkshire Combined Authority, added:

“Buses are the most widely used form of public transport in the region – and perform a vital public service.

“We must do everything in our power to ensure communities do not suffer where the commercial network fails to deliver.

“This move is part of our ambition for a more cohesive, reliable bus service which gets people where they need to go, when they need to go.”

As part of its BSIP, the Combined Authority is also spending nearly £30 million over the next three years to provide new and enhanced bus services across the region.

This includes an approved £4.3m package of enhanced bus services – including new routes, cheaper fares and increased frequencies – in Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale, from September.

The Combined Authority will work with Wakefield Council and local operators to deliver a package of improved services in the autumn.

Officers will also work to see how best to use the BSIP Plus funding in the district to protect and restore services. Further details of this work will be confirmed later this summer.

The Combined Authority is also taking action to improve buses in the longer-term by working towards having greater public control over services.

The BSIP Plus proposals were approved at a meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee on Friday, July 7 2023. A link to the papers can be found here:

A well-functioning bus network is a vital part of my vision for a better-connected West Yorkshire.

Tracy Brabin Mayor of West Yorkshire