West Yorkshire Combined Authority presses for long-term solution on public transport funding during pandemic

West Yorkshire Combined Authority is calling for a long-term solution to support for public transport during the COVID-19 pandemic as revised bus timetables are introduced.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority is calling for a long-term solution to support for public transport during the COVID-19 pandemic as revised bus timetables are introduced. 

 

Public transport will face a significant capacity challenge as the number of people travelling to work rises and shops and services re-open in the coming weeks while social distancing is maintained.  

 

Additional bus services will become available this week as part of timetable changes but people will continue to be urged to consider whether their journey is necessary. 

 

Buses are an essential part of the West Yorkshire transport system, in normal times accounting for almost 3 million journeys per week.  

 

Current Government support for bus services is due to end in 12 weeks’ time and focuses on directing funding to operators rather than transport authorities. 

 

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Lead, said: 

 

“Sadly the Government is prioritising short-term relief for the bus industry’s strained finances over a long-term managed approach which would help public transport recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

“Funding and empowering transport authorities to commission the services that meet local needs is the best way to secure the best outcome for passengers rather than funnelling money to operators to use as they see fit. 

 

“Working with other transport authorities through the Urban Transport Group, we have set out proposals on how to support bus services while securing value for money and hope the Government will work with us to put them into action.” 

 

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:  

 

“It is important to remember that the support being made available by the Government is only designed to restore bus capacity lost during the first phase of the pandemic. However, social distancing means significantly more buses will be needed to deliver a reliable service for those who really need it.

 

“Buses are the biggest mover of people for employment, education and vital services so it is crucial the Government works with us to support services in innovative ways.

 

“Urgent work is underway with partner councils on how we can make more road space available for cyclists and pedestrians alongside our continued investment in new infrastructure which will be critical to helping people travel safely and relieving pressure on public transport.”