Brabin to take control of West Yorkshire buses


West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin has confirmed that she will take forward proposals for bus franchising from 2027 onwards in 'the biggest shake up to public transport in the region for decades'.

Routes, frequencies, fares and overall standards for buses in the region will be set by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), with private operators contracted to run services on the authority’s behalf.

Mayor Brabin takes control of a bus

The WYCA said that despite the action it has taken through its Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), bus services in the region remain too infrequent and unreliable to meet passengers’ needs, with West Yorkshire ranking bottom for customer satisfaction according to a survey released by Transport Focus this week.

It added that to ensure a smooth transition franchising will be introduced in phases, with the first buses up and running in parts of Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield from March 2027.

The decision follows a three month consultation, which revealed that nearly three-quarters of the people and organisations that responded supported franchising.

Ms Brabin said: ‘For too long, buses have been run in the interests of private companies, not passengers. Franchising will help us build a better-connected bus network that works for all, not just company shareholders.

‘But we know that change will not happen overnight - the hard work we’ve been doing to improve the bus network continues while we work at pace to bring this new way of running the buses to our 2.4 million residents.’

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, backed the move, which he said will transform passenger experience in the region.

He said: ‘By better connecting people to jobs and educational opportunities, bus franchising in West Yorkshire will have a direct impact on productivity and prosperity in the region.

‘The value of bus franchising is already being proven in Greater Manchester, where bus passenger numbers are up at least 8% since it was introduced last September.’

In the meantime, the council said it will continue with its BSIP, which it said has seen the introduction of £2 Mayor’s Fares, increased frequencies on key routes, investment in bus stations and shelters, and new services.

A new package of bus improvements across the region is also set to be announced in May, it added.

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