Senior councillors will approve the first step in bringing widespread improvements to public transport in Leeds next week.
Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to formally approve the principle of a number of schemes and give the go-ahead for feasibility design work to be carried out for the Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme.
You may remember that the Department for Transport (DfT) gave £173.5million of funding to be invested in a range of improvements in transport in Leeds following the unceremonious collapse of the trolleybus project last year. The collapse led to a large public consultation on the future of transport across Leeds.
The executive board approval will allow funding to be invested in feasibility design work on the various elements of the programme, and will also endorse an outline schedule for the programme, which would see a development partner appointed to progress the various schemes in the plan before an outline business case is prepared.
Together with the £173.5m, additional support from West Y0orkshire Combined Aauthority and private sector – including £71m investment from First West Yorkshire – to provide at least 284 new low-emissions buses for Leeds by the end of 2020, the total funding package available is in excess of £270m.
What’s in it specifically for West Leeds?
- Expansion of the car park at New Pudsey Station to increase it park and ride capacity
- The congested A647 is specifically earmarked for improvements including, improving bus journey times and reliability through bus priority measures
- There are no firm details yet, but district transport hubs such as Armley, Bramley and Pudsey could be improved making use of the latest technologies and better connectivity between local communities and neighbourhoods
- A new Leeds High Frequency Bus Network – over 90% of core bus services will run every 10 minutes between 7am and 8pm. This will, obviously, benefit those of us here in the West as well.
- 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 and A58 north east
- 1,000 more bus stops having real-time information
- New park and ride services at Stourton and north Leeds joining the new service at Temple Green and the success of Elland Road
- New rail stations to support job creation and housing growth at Thorpe Park and White Rose/Millshaw Business Park
- 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
- Enhanced access at Cross Gates, Morley and Horsforth rail stations
- Connecting with city centre plans to create modern transport interchanges, improved public spaces and maximising the benefits from the remodelled Leeds Station and the arrival of high-speed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (formerly HS3).
The measures aim 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 report to next week’s executive board meeting can be read in full here.
It’s hard to tell at this stage exactly what impact this is going to have on your daily commute from West Leeds into the city centre. The devil’s going to be in the detail of these schemes.
What will the bus priority measures be on the A647? We don’t know yet.
What impact will extra parking spaces at New Pudsey have? Well, they’ll stop some cars going into the city centre, but there’s a danger that it’ll increase traffic at the already heavily congested Dawsons Corner and aforementioned A647. But again, we don’t know the detail.
There’s a welcome investment in improving bus services which could get people out of cars and ease traffic problems – the high frequency bus network sounds promising.
But as solid as these proposals potentially are, they’re no substitute for a mass transit system like a supertram. It’s ridiculous the city the size of Leeds doesn’t have a mass transit system.
In an ideal world these measures would complement a major scheme, not be the main hope for cutting congestion for at least the next decade.
What do you think?
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