Combined Authority Transport Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield has today welcomed the news that the Department for Transport has approved £173.5million of funding for transport improvements in Leeds.
Cllr Wakefield said: “Leeds City Council’s plans to build on successful developments on the county’s rail and bus networks are in line with the Combined Authority’s aim of developing a modern integrated transport network that benefits the whole of Leeds City Region.
“Better rail connections and more new stations linked into HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail and, based upon the popularity of Elland Road, further Park and Ride schemes such as the 1,000-space facility being built at Temple Green in east Leeds, will support economic growth and link people with new jobs that are being created.
“All of these development will be designed to deliver the effective solutions that, through the recent countywide Your Travel Your Say events and the Big Transport Conversations in Leeds people have told us they want to see. The effective solutions to which West Yorkshire Combined Authority is committed.”
Long-term transport strategy
Proposals to bring about transformational improvements to public transport in Leeds have been given a major green light after government approval was confirmed today.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has expressed its support for £173.5million of funding to be invested in an integrated package of improvements in transport in Leeds including new park and ride services, bus priority lanes and modernised transport facilities across the city. The approval will also allow proposals to be further developed for new and improved rail stations including an airport parkway station.
The plans were unveiled in December following the results of the transport conversation held in the city, with the proposed improvements forming the start of a new long-term transport strategy for Leeds.
The £173.5m of funding was secured for Leeds following the decision not to proceed with the New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus last year, with the funds needing to be committed to public transport schemes before the end of 2021.
With the support the DfT has now given, Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) will now develop a range of improvements including:
- Easing congestion, improving bus journey times and reliability through bus priority measures on key corridors in the city including the A61/A639 South, A61 North, A660, A58 north east and A647
- New park and ride services at Stourton and north Leeds joining the new service at Temple Green opening later this year and the success of Elland Road
- Improved district transport hubs making use of the latest technologies and better connectivity between local communities and neighbourhoods
- Developing proposals for new rail stations to support job creation and housing growth at Thorpe Park and White Rose/Millshaw Business Park
- Developing proposals for a new parkway station on the Leeds to Harrogate line to serve Leeds Bradford Airport and also act as a park and ride in both directions
- Enhancing access at Cross Gates, Morley and Horsforth rail stations and car park expansion at New Pudsey to increase its park and ride capacity.
- Connecting with city centre plans to create modern transport interchanges, en-hanced public spaces and maximising the benefits from the remodelled Leeds Sta-tion and the arrival of high-speed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (formerly HS3).
Together with the £173.5m, additional support from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and private sector stakeholders including £71m investment from First West Yorkshire to provide at least 284 new low-emissions buses for Leeds by the end of 2020 increases the total funding package available to in excess of £270m.
Potential to transform
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “We are delighted that the Department for Transport has given its support for our plans which have the potential to transform public transport in Leeds, with improvements we can deliver in the coming years in keeping with what the people of Leeds told us they want to see. That is making it quicker and easier for everyone to be able to move around the city as well as connecting people and businesses to places and jobs, increasing productivity and supporting major economic growth areas.
“We can now get on with working with our partners to develop and deliver these ambitious and exciting improvements, but it is important to stress this needs to be just the start of major investment in transport in Leeds and the region. Much more needs to follow, so we all must work together if we are to achieve the modern fully integrated transport network including a rapid mass-transit system that our city and the wider region needs as soon as possible.”
Managing Director of First West Yorkshire Paul Matthews said: “Today’s announcement is the first major step towards transforming Leeds’s transport network and I’m proud that First West Yorkshire is a pivotal part of this.
“We remain committed to our pledge to invest £71m in ultra-low emission vehicles by the end of 2020, but it’s hugely important that we continue to work in partnership with Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority so that we can tackle the issue of congestion thereby improving the reliability of services and encouraging even more people to travel by bus.”
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “New segregated bus corridors and investment in park and ride schemes will be a huge benefit to people who live and work in Leeds, and those who visit the city.
“This investment will make public transport in Leeds more accessible and reduce journey times.
“Better transport facilities don’t just help people get around, they help them get on – connecting them to jobs and helping to deliver economic growth in the north.”
Doubling passenger numbers
The first improvements expected to come forward are the new park and ride service at Stourton and additional bus priority measures, with the measures outlined aiming to double the number of bus passengers in the next 10 years from the current 250,000 bus journeys made every day in Leeds.
The strategy also looks to encourage more walking and cycling on people-friendly streets, promoting a healthy Leeds through better air quality and reduced carbon emissions due to more use of public transport.
The plans have been supported and guided by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds transport advisory panel. The panel is chaired by Director of Strategy for Transport for the North Nigel Foster, and includes leading transport experts and senior figures from transport bodies and organisations, along with representatives from the worlds of business, education, planning, accessibility, equalities and campaign groups.
The transport improvements form part of the wider Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to deliver up to 35,000 new jobs and an additional £3.7bn of economic output by 2036.