Buses doing heavy lifting for West Yorkshire economy

With people using the bus to make almost three million journeys to and from work in West Yorkshire every week, buses are vital to the local economy. That was the message delivered by West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair Cllr Kim Groves at the launch of the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance in Bradford yesterday.

19 March 2019

The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance brings together the Combined Authority, bus operators Arriva, First and Transdev. It also includes smaller bus operators represented by the Association of Bus Operators in West Yorkshire (ABOWY).

Customers at the heart of improving services

Yesterday's meeting saw members committing to put customers at the heart of improving services, keeping buses moving and developing a sustainable bus network.

Working together, the Alliance will develop plans to deliver quicker and more reliable journeys, further progress towards carbon-free services, easy-to-understand and affordable fares for people of all ages and better travel advice and journey planning information are all Alliance commitments. Improved customer service and facilities, such as more, free Wi-Fi and USB charging points, are also promised.


Big Meet Up

Cllr Groves was joined by Dwayne Wells Head Of Commercial at Arriva Yorkshire, Paul Matthews, managing director of First Bus West Yorkshire and Alex Hornby Chief Executive at Transdev and Andrew McGuiness from ABOWY for the Bus Alliance's Big Meet Up at Bradford's City Hall today. The Big Meet Up was an all-day event to set out how the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance is going to achieve these aims and increase local bus use.

During the event, there were roundtable discussions on a number of key themes. These included Ticketing and Affordability, Customer Service, Clean Bus Technology and Travel Information. Debates on The Network, Highway Infrastructure and Travel Information Communication and Engagement also took place.


Heavy lifting

Cllr Groves said: "With people using them to make nearly three million journeys to and from work in West Yorkshire each week, buses do the heavy lifting when it comes to supporting the local economy."

"The county's 1,000-strong bus fleet carries over four times as many people as local trains each year. It is vital, therefore that we use this Alliance to ensure the services are attractive not only for existing users but to potential new users who currently travel by car as well as to young people who are the passengers of tomorrow."

"We have already worked together successfully and achieved positive results for passengers through our joint Bus18 initiative and I am pleased that the latest passenger Focus Bus Passenger Survey is showing a rise in overall journey satisfaction by West Yorkshire passengers."

"The new West Yorkshire Bus Alliance is about building on those successes and taking our commitment to better bus services to the next level."


Buses sometimes overlooked

Barney Mynott, Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses said: "Buses are really important to the economy in West Yorkshire. Buses are the main way that people get to work and their customers get to where they are so they can buy things from them."

"Buses are sometimes overlooked but they are the main way people getaround and we do our business. Increasingly staffing shortages and skills shortages are appearing in certain areas of our economy and buses are how we get people where we need to be to get those jobs."

Dwayne Wells, Head of Commercial at Arriva Yorkshire and Yorkshire Tiger said: "Buses are so important to the people of West Yorkshire. We know that by working together in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and other local bus companies, we can deliver positive changes that will make travelling by bus even better for our existing customers, as well as attracting new bus users."

"Following the hugely successful Bus 18 initiative, we're thrilled to be launching the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance. Together we'll be focusing our efforts on a range of actions designed to improve traveling by bus in West Yorkshire, and we can't wait to get started."


Working collaboratively

Paul Matthews, Managing Director of First West Yorkshire, said: "We're proud to be officially launching the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, which will build upon the successes of the Bus18 initiative."

"Among the successes of Bus18 were the introduction of the popular 'go anywhere' MyDay ticket for Under 19s, the investment of £23 million in new, cleaner buses and £1 million into alleviating bus congestion hotspots and more flexibility around the need for under 19s to prove their age to get cheaper fares."

"We have proven that by working collaboratively, we can make a real difference for our customers across the region and look forward to announcing various stages of progress of the Alliance as it moves ahead."

Alex Hornby, CEO for Transdev, said: "We're extremely proud to be a part of the solution that will help solve the problems of congestion and air quality in our towns and cities. Improved bus services will drive benefits for all across West Yorkshire and beyond, and all of us at Transdev are committed to the cause. Our track record demonstrates this, and our present success in gaining passenger growth shows that people will be proud to choose the bus when we design the product around their needs.

"By bringing together proactive operators, authorities and passionate people, the Alliance can only add we add to the success of the pioneering Bus 18 partnership, and we are all delighted to play our part now and in the years ahead."


Working towards fantastic service

Andrew McGuiness from ABOWY said: "What passengers want to see is all bus companies working towards delivering a fantastic service in West Yorkshire so it's vital all of them are involved in the Alliance.Bus companies working with local authorities, no matter which council or which operator, to deliver the services passengers want is hugely important."

Among the positive starting points discussed at yesterday's Big Meet Up were the fact that through MCard, West Yorkshire has the largest travel smartcard scheme of its kind outside London's Oyster card. The success of park and ride at Elland Road and Temple Green in Leeds, which are removing 9,000 car journeys from city centre's streets was also mentioned.


Key positives

Other key positives were the Combined Authority's extension of half-fare travel to all under 19s living in West Yorkshire, the online availability of real-time information at all the county's 14,000 bus stops and shelters. Importantly there is the investment by the bus of - millions in new, ultra-low emission buses that are more comfortable and include Wi-Fi and USB chargers.

Last year's introduction of the popular, £2.75 countywide MyDay bus ticket for under 19s, through the Bus18 initiative was also seen as a success. Established in 2017, Bus18 saw the Combined Authority working with Arriva, First and Transdev to West Yorkshire bus travel better. Its achievements included a guarantee by the three bus companies to provide a free travel voucher to any passengers not happy with their bus journey. Customers whose last bus fails to arrive within 20 minutes of the scheduled time can now get the cost of a taxi fare home reimbursed.

Lasting through to 2022, the new West Yorkshire Bus Alliance will be based on legal provisions recently introduced by the government for Voluntary Partnership Agreements. These are defined by the Department for Transport as agreements entered into by transport authorities and bus operators, to deliver benefits to local bus users.

Find out more about the Bus18 initiative