As a public consultation opens on the future of bus services in West Yorkshire, bus operators from across the region have revealed a dynamic new plan for Bus Reform, which they are confident meets the ambitions of the Mayor, Tracy Brabin.
‘The Best for West Yorkshire’ campaign sets out the case for the ‘Enhanced Partnership Plus’ (EP+), which operators are confident will deliver benefits for customers including accelerating public control without the burden and financial risk of a franchise model.
An independent auditor’s assessment of options for bus reform presented to the Combined Authority concluded that the “…Enhanced Partnership ‘Plus’ would according to the assessment be justifiable…in terms of delivering Value for Money…”
It builds on a successful partnership which has gathered pace over recent years, seeing stronger collaboration between the bus operators, the Mayor’s team and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).
Enhanced Partnership Plus would see the network controlled through a Network Management Group, overseen by WYCA. It will deliver all the benefits of Bus Reform: a better bus network, including improved reliability, more frequent services, simpler ticketing, unified customer service and electrification of the fleet.
It would provide immediate improvements to bus services, whereas the Mayor’s preferred ‘franchising’ route would not come into operation until 2027 at the earliest. The operators’ option also ensures there is less financial risk to West Yorkshire’s public purse.
A spokesperson for the operators said: “We recognise there needs to be reform and firmly believe we can go faster to bring about change.
“In partnership with the CA and mayoral authority, we’ve jointly rolled-out the ‘Mayor’s Fares’ initiative, capping Single trips at £2, have made travel for young people under 19 simpler and fairer on any bus and led the way in introducing a greener fleet of buses.
“All of this has been delivered in partnership, which is what makes Enhanced Partnership Plus the stronger and less risky choice to guarantee the best bus service for West Yorkshire.
“We welcome the consultation into the future of bus services in the region and look forward to working with our partners, passengers and the public to arrive at the best solution for everyone in the region.”