An investment of over £180m in bus services in Leeds has been proposed. The aim of the spend is to double passenger numbers within ten years and improve air quality. It forms part of the new Leeds Transport Strategy, which would see a total of £270m of improvements made to the public transport networks in the city.
First West Yorkshire has pledged to invest £71m to provide 284 new Euro6 buses for its Leeds fleet by the end of 2020. Leeds City Council is also in talks with other bus operators about additional investment in their services. This partnership approach, including all bus companies, is aiming to increase demand, encourage more people to use public transport and improve air quality in the city. New bus infrastructure has been planned, improvements part-funded from the £173.5m of DfT funding secured following the decision not to proceed with the New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus in May, with the funds needing to be invested in public transport before the end of 2021. Additional public and private investment would also be available, such as from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and developer contributions.
The proposed improvements include over 90% of services on the core bus network to run at a ten minute frequency, along with more frequent early evening services. Additional bus priority measures on key corridors are to be introduced, including the A61/A639 South, A61 North, A660, A58 north east and A647 to ease congestion and improve bus journey times and reliability. A new park and ride site at Stourton with an express bus serving the city centre is planned, along with a further new site in north Leeds and Temple Green, which opens next year. This is expected to add more than 2,000 additional spaces in the city. The current Elland Road park and ride service is to continue to be expanded and linked with other parts of the city.
The plans are focused on improving local bus journeys to improve connectivity between communities and neighbourhoods. Use of new smart technologies to improve ticketing, boarding and waiting times using real time updated displays and information to generate increased network capacity, along with free Wi-Fi on all new buses are included. Bus stops across the city are to be improved, with 1,000 more offering real time information on services. Improvements at Leeds Bus Station and enhanced district hubs across the city are to be put in place as part of a more integrated bus network connecting with community services.
Bus travel is the most used form of public transport in Leeds, with 15% of working residents travelling by bus and 250,000 bus trips being made per day in the city. Approximately one-third of households in Leeds do not have a car.
The new Leeds Transport Strategy has been supported and guided by the new Leeds transport advisory panel. The proposals and strategy released tomorrow will be considered by senior councillors at the executive board meeting at Civic Hall on 14 December 2016. If approved will then go to the DfT for its consideration.
MD for First West Yorkshire, Paul Matthews, said, ‘As one of the largest bus operators in Leeds, we are delighted to be able to advance our significant investment, which alongside the commitments of Leeds City Council, will dramatically change the customer experience for bus travel, and as a result, we believe that doubling passenger numbers in the next ten years is achievable.’