Cllr Keith Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee Chair today described the Bus Services Bill currently proceeding through Parliament, as “a once in a generation opportunity to provide a strong legal framework for the operation of buses in West Yorkshire”.
However, Cllr Wakefield confirmed his support for amendments to the Bill that restricts Local Transport Authorities such as West Yorkshire Combined Authority from forming bus companies. Restriction
Cllr Wakefield said: “While we broadly welcome the provisions of the Bus Services Bill, which sets out provisions for Combined Authorities with elected mayors to adopt powers for franchised bus services, we are supporting an amendment that would remove the restriction on us establishing bus companies should we choose to do so.
“If it is the Government’s intention that decisions about bus services should be made at a local level by Transport Authorities it simply doesn’t make sense to restrict the options available to them, particularly in the light of such municipal operators’ positive track record in other parts of the country.”
Cllr Wakefield said that West Yorkshire Combined Authority has written to local MPs urging them to support amendments tabled in the House of Lords to remove this restriction and make this option available to all Combined Authorities. Committed
He continued: “We are committed to work already underway with local bus operators to improve services for passengers by addressing issues such as punctuality, stability of services and customer service. However, we do not agree that the Bill, which is a once in a generation opportunity to provide a strong legal framework for the operation of buses in West Yorkshire, should restrict the options available to us.
“With over 180 million journeys made on them in West Yorkshire every year, bus services are vital for connecting people to jobs, training and opportunities. They underpin the local economy, growth and job creation so it is vital that we don’t miss this opportunity to have every tool available to ensure those services meet the needs and expectations of West Yorkshire’s people, businesses and communities.”A briefing on the Buses Bill is available from the Urban Transport Group website (opens in new window).