Council has its say on bus services

Cllr Jane Scullion, Leader of Calderdale Council

Calderdale Council’s response to a major consultation on how buses are run in West Yorkshire will be discussed at its Cabinet meeting on Monday 11 December.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is asking people and organisations across the region to have their say on the proposed reform of bus services.

The consultation is open until 7 January 2024, and Calderdale Council is one of the organisations that will formally give its views.

Subject to the outcome of the consultation and a final decision by Mayor Tracy Brabin, the bus reform plans could result in bus services in West Yorkshire coming back under public control.

Currently, bus routes, timetables and fares are mainly set by private bus operators, which has led to issues being reported such as variable customer satisfaction levels, confusion in routes and ticketing across providers, and declining passenger numbers.

Some bus services are operating commercially and others are being subsidised. This has led to users identifying problems including services being lost at short notice, poor performance and limited integration with other ways of travelling, such as trains. This leads to people being more dependent on cars and discouraged from using lower-carbon options.

Bus franchising is proposed as an option for tackling these issues. This would give the Combined Authority control over the routes, frequency, fares and overall standards of the region’s buses. The Combined Authority would contract bus operators to run these on its behalf.

The bus operators have an alternative proposal called ‘Enhanced Partnership Plus’. This would see private operators continuing to run buses, with some changes to the way the bus network is managed.

All options will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting.

Cllr Jane Scullion, Leader of Calderdale Council, said:

“Good bus travel, that’s inclusive and accessible, is really important to our communities, especially those in rural or more deprived areas. It gives people a lower-carbon way to get to places that matter to them for their work and leisure. This helps our towns and places to thrive, reduces inequalities by improving access to jobs and businesses, and contributes to local climate action.

“We back the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s proposal to create a better-connected region by bringing buses back under public control, simplifying fares, providing greater certainty over services and customer information, and having greener buses.”

People can have their say on the Combined Authority’s bus reform consultation online at link), by post or at drop-in sessions taking place across West Yorkshire.

In Calderdale, the drop-in session took place on 27 November at Halifax Town Hall as part of the Calderdale Transport Forum, which is a new way to find out more about plans to develop transport across West Yorkshire and ensure Calderdale’s voice is reflected in the plans. The consultation closes on 7 January 2024.

Cabinet Members will be asked to approve the Council’s formal response to the consultation at their meeting on Monday 11 December, which is at Halifax Town Hall from 3pm. The meeting can also be viewed online at link)

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