West Yorkshire's bus information strategy to be 'digital first' but retains paper timetable commitment

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee will be asked to agree a new Bus Information Strategy designed to ensure inclusive access to travel planning.

Next week’s meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee will be asked to agree a new Bus Information Strategy designed to ensure inclusive access to travel planning.

Developed after an eight-week consultation with local people, the Strategy takes a ‘digital first’ approach which reflects how a significant majority of bus users are now finding information about their bus journeys the. However, recognising there are people who still rely on paper timetables, the Combined Authority will continue to provide printed information.

Majority of respondents

A majority of the 1,000-plus respondents to the consultation supported the proposed ‘digital first’ approach but 18% claimed they would not have any alternative to finding information if paper timetables were withdrawn completely. As a result, the updated Strategy shows the Combined Authority has developed a cost-effective solution to maintaining the provision of printed timetables.

Almost 60 percent of people who took part in the consultation said they used the 1,000 or so electronic real-time displays at bus stops and the Combined Authority is currently rolling out an extra 1,000 as well as upgrading many current units.

Open data

Thirty-six percent said they used their smartphone to access yournextbus real-time information, and the Combined Authority is committed to providing better information as well as continuing to make the data openly available for third-party developers.

Online, around two million people make over six million visits to the Combined Authority’s Metro travel information website each year from where they download over 650,000 timetables every month.

One proposed change will be the phasing out of yournextbus real-time information by text message. This is because live information provides regularly updated information rather than a snapshot at a one point in time as well as being more cost-effective for customers.

Access for everyone

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “Our aim is to get more people in West Yorkshire using buses which is why we have made clear from the outset, we want to ensure everyone has access to travel information how they need it.

“However, the overwhelming evidence shows that people of all ages have turned to digital sources of information which is why our approach is ‘digital first’ but with provision for all in the form of paper timetables for those who still want them.

“This approach enables us to ensure we are delivering local taxpayers with value for money and helps reduce the environmental cost of having to pulp thousands of paper timetables when go out of date due to service changes.”

New approach

Next Friday’s Transport Committee members will hear that the new Bus Information Strategy will support the development of a new Mobility as a Service approach to transport in West Yorkshire that will enable people to plan their travel and pay for it in one place where they will also be alerted to disruptions and delays.

The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, which brings together the Combined Authority, bus operators and district councils will also us the Strategy’s approach as a means of putting customers at the heart of improving services.

Inclusive

Cllr Groves added: “Through the Alliance we aim to grow the number of people using West Yorkshire’s bus services and the customer-driven, digital first, always live and inclusive approach of the Information Strategy will help us achieve that.”

Download a copy of the meeting agenda (opens in new tab). The meeting takes place at 11am on Friday 8 November at Wellington House in Leeds and all are welcome.