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Accessibility concerns grow over Bramley Bus Interchange as work continues a year after it should have ended

By Louis Chapman-Coombe

Bus users have voiced their anger over delayed works to Bramley Bus Interchange, which are still on-going almost a year after they should have been completed. 

The works on the Bramley Bus Interchange were scheduled to be completed on New Year’s Eve last year, following a £495,000 revamp funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority. 

The works were originally approved in June 2020 as part of a £7.4 million package of city-wide transport improvements, with work originally scheduled to start in February 2021. But the start of work was delayed by the Coronavirus pandemic and workmen didn’t start on site until last November.

The planned improvements have come in gradually over the past 13 months, with the new real-time screens only becoming operational in the past few weeks.

New shelters have also been installed, but bus users are complaining these are too narrow, especially for those who are disabled or are wheelchair and mobility scooter users.

Muddy Bramley Bus Interchange on a foggy morning. Photo: Louis Chapman-Coombe

 Mobility scooter user Amy Francom, 35, from Bramley, said: “I really struggle getting on the buses with my scooter; the gap is way too small.” 

Bus user Carol Mann, 67, from Bramley also mentioned the size of the shelters was an issue. She said: “These bus shelters you have no chance… people just can’t get past, especially wheelchairs.”  

The work on Bramley Bus Interchange is still not completed, with banks of mud still unaltered from the start of the operation last year.

The main island in the middle, an area which has been left for an additional bus stop, still does not have a shelter built and is currently used by out-of-service buses. A loading area, which is part of the planned work, is currently used as an unofficial car park by punters from Old Unicorn Pub across the road. 

Catherine Blake, 58, from Bramley added her thoughts on the mud banks next to the stops. “Well they aren’t very helpful for people getting off the bus,” she said. 

The works were originally approved in June 2020, as part of a £7.4 million package to improve city-wide transport links. 

WLD understands work on planting the area has been delayed ‘due to a lack of resources’ in the council’s parks and countryside department and is now due to start on Wednesday.

Concerns continue to be aired over unfinished Bramley Bus Interchange. Photo: Louis Chapman-Coombe

Councillors’ concerns

Councillors Kevin Ritchie and Caroline Gruen (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) backed residents’ concerns.

They said in a statement: “We share the disappointment with the delay in completing the agreed works at Bramley Bus station, which was an important project of the Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme (LPTIP) to improve bus flow and safety at Bramley Bus Station. 

“We have been in constant contact with the project team about the shortcomings for some time now. As a result the real-time displays were installed, the benches secured and improvements to the surface finish completed.”

They said the council’s parking enforcement team are responsible for parking on the loading bay and are aware and including on their patrols.

“The missing bus stop on the top island will be fitted when the bus companies need to bring the lane into service,” the councillors added. “The lane is currently being used for driver swaps, resulting in less congestion.

“The biggest disappointment is the inaccessible bus stops, of which WYCA have conceded they have made a mistake on the shelter provision, with them switching the shelters like for like without consideration for updated regulations on disability access.

“This was of particular concern to me (Cllr Ritchie). I’m Disability Champion at LCC, at a council committed to the Social Model of Disability, which recognises that it is society, through barriers and attitudes, which places limits on a person, not their disability. The shelters will be addressed soon and hopefully lessons learned for future projects, to ensure facilities are accessible for all.”

The works are being overseen by West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council. WLD contacted them for comment on Friday but has yet to receive a reply.

The improvements aim to provide a safer overall layout and improve pedestrian movement by introducing better waiting facilities and real-time travel information.

WLD has featured residents’ concerns about the bus station work throughout the year. In June we featured concerns of the ‘mess’ at the interchange, with a council spokesperson at the time blaming the delay on issues surrounding securing electricity power connections to the new bus shelters.

In September residents were still expressing concerns as engineers returned to work nine months after the scheduled finish date.

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