I read that Leeds recently had visitors from Dusseldorf who were finding out what made the city such a magnet for tourism, writes John Baron.
They were here to see how the city’s transport, tourism and leisure infrastructure works.
I hope they enjoyed visiting our city, it has a lot to offer and the city centre is a credit. But forgive me, I hope they weren’t laughing all the way back to Germany in terms of transport.
Perhaps if they saw the traffic issues in West Leeds they might not have fallen for the PR spin.
Last December The Dispatch wrote how traffic congestion in Leeds was at ‘crisis point’.
Since then the city’s lost its latest attempt at securing funding for a mass transit system (trolleybus), it’s gained a cycle superhighway which the jury is still out on and our civic leaders have belatedly asked us for our opinions on future transport in Leeds (when the answer was evident 20 years ago with Supertram – but they cocked it up).
An incident in West Leeds on Saturday summed up the issues facing this city. At first glance you probably think it’s so parochial it’s barely worth a mention, but when you look at the number of times this sort of thing happens it’s little wonder we’re looking at such a car-centric congested city.
Six of us were standing in Pudsey Bus Station waiting for the 91 bus from Pudsey to Headingley, via Bramley and Kirkstall.
Gas works on Leeds-Bradford Road in Kirkstall at the weekend had led to MASSIVE traffic delays in an area already creaking under the pressure of traffic congestion at the best of times. Apparently managers at Kirkstall Morrisons were out handing chocolates to frustrated motorists who were stuck in Morrybogs’ car park for up to 40 minutes.
So my bus was late by about 15 minutes.
When it came to Pudsey bus station, it dropped its passengers off at platform C. The driver answered a call of nature in Pudsey Leisure Centre loos, restarted his engine and drove off some 20-odd minutes late.
Which was fine, but his passengers were stood at platform E at the other end of the station (which is where he was supposed to pick us up from). We shouted and waved our arms in the air, but he drove past us, seemingly oblivious.
I can’t repeat here what many of the half a dozen would-be passengers said as we’re a family website. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
Some had already been waiting for the best part of 40 minutes for the late bus. I decided to cut my losses and not bother with my journey and a couple of others faced a long wait for the next bus (which would presumably be late due to the congestion in Kirkstall).
The problem is, this sort of incident isn’t unusual.
I’ll refer you to the angry public meeting earlier this month which saw Pudsey residents vent their anger over poor times and unreliable bus services, some of which can take up to 50 minutes to get into Leeds city centre.
Recent bus service changes appear to have left townsfolk grossly short-changed.
A quick look on Facebook and Twitter sees daily complaints across West Leeds about public transport.
It’s great we’ve got a new train station at Kirkstall Forge, but perhaps it’s time to actually run a proper service to it?
The May 2016 timetable, published by Network Rail and Metro, shows the station being served by one train per hour between Leeds and Ilkley, with a limited number of additional calls (peak hour and late night) provided by Airedale Line services to/from Skipton and Bradford. On Sundays Leeds to Bradford Forster Square trains only call once per hour each way.
Will the council’s ‘conversation’ on the future of transport in the city lead to improvements on the city’s roads? Well, it’s to be hoped so and people really do need to have their say.
The ‘conversation’ moves to Pudsey on Wednesday:
— Leeds Highways (@Leeds_Highways) September 23, 2016
But you can bet your bottom dollar that the representatives from Dusseldorf wouldn’t have been taken anywhere near Kirkstall and Pudsey Bus Station for their visit to the city (and I do wish the city wouldn’t insult its residents by pushing out this crap when it’s obvious to anyone who lives here there are problems).
If our German friends really knew the truth about transport infrastucture in the city, I wonder what they’d think?