West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has launched a three-month consultation on its plans for the region’s transport systems.
In partnership with district authorities and bus operators, the combined authority, which is responsible for the £1bn West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund, is working to produce new 20-year regional bus and transport strategies.
Leeds in West Yorkshire
In its transport strategy, WYCA says its ambition ‘lies not just in a collection of large scale transport schemes, but in the outcomes that we want to achieve’. By 2026 it aims to achieve a 25% increase in bus journeys, 50% more trips by rail in the region and a doubling of trips made by bicycle.
The strategies will support the targets in the recently-updated Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan of creating an additional 35,700 jobs over the next 20 years and growing the city region economy at a faster rate than the national average.
They will also be used to update the current West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan, ‘setting out how a modern, effective and integrated transport system can help people make the journeys they need to for jobs, education and leisure’.
Bradford councillor and WYCA transport committee member, Taj Salam, said: ‘Buses are by far the most highly used form of public transport with around 180 million bus journeys being made in West Yorkshire every year.
‘Although they are effective at relieving congestion and connecting people with jobs, training and essential services, they can too often be seen as expensive, unreliable and a last resort rather than a positive choice.’
He added: ‘The combined authority has long recognised the important role bus services play in underpinning our economy and has worked with bus operators to achieve improvements such as the MCard smartcard, real-time information and modern, low-emission vehicles.’
As part of the consultation, WYCA will hold over 70 drop-in sessions to find out what people think about local bus services and ‘the county’s’ transport network.
In March, WYCA agreed a devolution deal with the Government, which chair Peter Box said was ‘disappointing’ and didn’t ‘match the scale of our ambition’.