West Yorkshire Combined Authority seeks to work with Government on future of funding for bus services

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is asking the Government to work with it urgently to support bus services as an essential part of the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is asking the Government to work with it urgently to support bus services as an essential part of the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Analysis commissioned by the Combined Authority suggests when emergency funding expires in March the gap between the cost of providing bus services in West Yorkshire and income will be £1.5 million per week until passengers can return in greater numbers.

In a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the Combined Authority sets out the actions it has already taken in partnership with operators through the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance during the pandemic including maintaining services for key workers, providing capacity information at bus stops to support social distancing and providing bus and college transport.

It also puts forward measures being taken that will support the recovery of bus services including the new ‘Fare Deal’ for under-19s, a new MCard product for part-time commuters and the creation of an Enhanced Bus Partnership to strengthen local control.

The letter calls on the Government to use its forthcoming National Bus Strategy to streamline the process of creating an Enhanced Bus Partnership and support investment in low emissions vehicles. It also asks for the delegation of funding to the Combined Authority to build on the joint management of bus services with operators during the pandemic.

The letter says:

“We are ready to meet the challenges of recovering a bus service during 2021 but we need assurance from Government that an effective funding mechanism will be in place which will protect our network during this process.

“Our bus operators have informed us that, if the recovery funding is insufficient, they will reduce services accordingly. Such action would put not only our bus service in jeopardy but our region’s economic recovery.”

The future of bus funding and implications for services in the region will be discussed at the meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee on Friday 15 January at 11am and can be watched on Youtube.

The letter is signed by:

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Combined Authority Transport Lead

Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council

Cllr Tim Swift, Leader of Calderdale Council

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the Combined Authority Transport Committee

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11

Cllr Stewart Golton, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Leeds City Council

Cllr Steven Leigh, Leader of Conservative Group, Calderdale Council

Cllr Rebecca Poulsen, Leader of Conservative Group, Bradford Council