By John Baron
Councillors and bus users in West Leeds have reacted with anger and concern after cuts to the area’s bus services were confirmed by operators First West Yorkshire.
As revealed by WLD on Sunday, the number 9 Horsforth to White Rose Centre service, which goes through Farsley, Rodley, Pudsey, Farnley and parts of Wortley, will be axed.
A petition against the loss of the number 9 – along with the 87 St James’ Hospital-Holbeck-Armley-Bramley service – has been launched by Pudsey Labour Party and can be signed here.
Pudsey councillor Simon Seary (Cons) is also encouraging bus users to register their concerns for him to take up with FirstBus.
A journey 9S, to cover an early morning service used by students to Elliott Hudson College, will be introduced by First.
There will also be new timetable on the X11 Leeds – Pudsey – Bradford route with some early and late journeys being cut completely, and an hourly service introduced on the number 14 service between Pudsey and Leeds.
WLD readers have already reacted with anger and concern to the cuts and there are also growing concerns over the decision to change the 508 Halifax to Leeds service, which will be rerouted to operate along the ring road and Stanningley Bypass so miss out Farsley, Rodley and Bramley.
In a letter to West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Cllr Andrew Carter (Cons, Calverley & Farsley) said: “I would like to strongly object to the decision that has been taken that the 508 bus service will no longer serve Farsley. I am writing on behalf of my constituents in Farsley, a number of whom have already contacted me about this decision.
“We are constantly lectured about the need to use public transport, and yet services are being withdrawn.
“To make matters worse, patients who currently attend the Sunfield Surgery in Stanningley are being transferred to the Hillfoot Surgery on Owlcotes Road, Pudsey from 1 April. Losing this bus service will make this transfer even more difficult. It needs an urgent approach to the bus company.”
Cllr Peter Carlilll (Lab, Calverley & Farsley) pledged to work with the Combined Authority to discuss these routes with other operators to see if more of these services can be returned – especially the number 9 route which is key for many journeys that aren’t possible via other buses.
He added: “This is yet again another reduction in the bus service our residents deserve, which has continued to decline for decades. It provides further evidence that the bus system in this country is broken and in need of reform, and I am therefore continuing to work alongside the mayor towards bringing buses back under public control, as well as campaigning for long-term sustainable Government funding for bus to halt this decline.”
Cllr Carlill urged people to contact him with specific concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First: “demand has changed”
First West Yorkshire say passenger numbers remain lower than pre-pandemic levels and although many services are showing good growth, a very small number haven’t shown signs of attracting sufficient users to cover their costs.
Kayleigh Ingham, commercial director of First West Yorkshire, said: “We have worked closely with the Combined Authority to maintain connectivity where possible. Unfortunately some of these journeys are no longer viable given low levels of utilisation and increased operating costs, whilst WYCA has chosen to revise or withdraw some of these expired contracts for the same reasons.
“We appreciate that some amendments will be disappointing for customers affected. First West Yorkshire has carefully reviewed these, together with WYCA, in order to limit changes.
“This action is necessary now to ensure we build a sustainable network into the future and that we balance customer demand with available resources, where there is a clear need for additional capacity.
“It would not be prudent for any organisation, private or public, to continue to operate the same services knowing that the demand across the bus network has changed.”
Services which will be withdrawn:
9 – White Rose Centre-Pudsey-Farsley-Horsforth
9A – Seacroft-Colton-Swillington-Rothwell-Middleton-White Rose Centre-Pudsey-Farsley-Horsforth
47 – Leeds-Hunslet-Middleton-Morley-White Rose Centre
48 – Wigton Moor-Moortown-Chapeltown-Leeds-Hunslet-Middleton-Morley-White Rose Centre
64 – Leeds-Cross Gates-Barwick-in-Elmet-Aberford
87 – St James’ Hospital-East End Park-Hunslet-Holbeck-Armley-Bramley
Services which will have their frequency cut:
14 – Pudsey-Armley-Leeds-Logic Business Park
X11 – Leeds-Armley-Pudsey
508 – Halifax-Shelf-Thornbury-Leeds
181 – Huddersfield-Cowlersley-Slaithwaite-Wilberlee
183 – Huddersfield-Cowlersley-Slaithwaite-Wilberlee-Marsden
184 – Huddersfield-Cowlersley-Slaithwaite-Wilberlee-Marsden-Lees-Oldham
185 – Huddersfield-Cowlersley-Slaithwaite-Wilberlee-Marsden
Full details of all changes in Leeds can be found here.
Not noticed any response from our esteemed Labour West Yorkshire Mayor, whose manifesto promised that public transport would be a major priority. How are we supposed to stop using our cars when we can’t rely on ANY form of public transport – if they’re not being cut, they’re on strike!
Ms Brabin, West Yorkshire Mayor who has the responsibility for transport, housing and planning, and finance powers, as well as the functions of the Police and Crime Commissioner, has fallen at the first hurdle. She started her tenure by claiming that sorting out the buses and making public transport available to all was her biggest priority. That went well, didn’t it?
Let’s hope she doesn’t make as much of a hash of the rest of her responsibilities but I won’t hold my breath. Couldn’t organise a p#ss up in a brewery comes to mind.
This conservative government is clearly choosing not to prioritise giving support to keep local bus services running. Without a change in government and a change in priorities for owning, managing and supporting our bus services then we are at the mercy of people like First Bus (and other operators). It is a measure of their arrogance that without public consultation they claim that axing our services is needed “to ensure a sustainable network into the future”. They made first half year operating profits of £66m and were able to pay out sizeable dividends to shareholders. Clearly their “First” priority is their corporate profitability and their shareholders. It is definitely not West Leeds passengers.
In reply to Peter whose comment is above….. the last time I looked we have a Labour Council and a Labour West Yorkshire Mayor. They are responsible for public transport in this area.
Some funny comments on here. One person says it’s all the Tories, another says no – it’s all Labour. Truth is it’s a combination of the two. The Tory-led government is strangling local authorities with cut after cut and has been for years. To suggest otherwise is plain daft and to stick your head in the sand. Equally, the Labour Mayor has been a huge disappointment. She’s good on social media but seems impotent or unwilling to deliver meaningful change. It’s snowing today – there’ll be Labour supporters blaming there Tories for that, too!
Perhaps people need to look at alternatives at the ballot box to the two main parties. Neither of them seem able to deliver.
The conservative government dictates the pace at which bus reform can take place by dictating the process and timescales that have to be followed. If the central government controls this, and fails to provide adequate funding, no local mayor of any party can work miracles. Despite this, First Bus has made enough profit to pay out a dividend. That’s deregulation, a conservative policy which we’ve had to put up with since 1986, except London, the plans for which were shelved when the effects of the legislation were seen elsewhere. Until that ends, we can forget any significant improvements regardless of who’s in power.
Sadly, its still the bus companies that choose the routes in Leeds – and they’ve still cherry-picking the most profitable ones at expense of cutting off local communities and some of the poorest in society from amenities and jobs. Pretty soon we’ll only have the 16, 49, 50, 72 and whichever other so called ‘high-frequency’ routes are most profitable. Unless that is somebody actually gets their finger out and starts running a service that meets the needs of the local community and not shareholders. Surely a franchising system similar to the one in Manchester would be an improvement. Hello, is anybody listening out there? Is anybody going to grab the bull by the horns and actually do something about it?
That’s what’s currently happening under the West Yorkshire Mayor, but as I mentioned above, it’s central government that decides the timescales, process and all the hoops that have to be jumped through by the mayoral combined authorities before they can finally introduce franchising. It’s a five-year process in total. I’m not sure how far into that we currently are, maybe 18 months or so. In the interim, we have to have some kind of voluntary agreement beween the bus operators and the combined authority, which is a total farce, because it just means the operators agree to do what they should be doing anyway, with no consequences if they don’t. It’s a bit like appeasing a bully instead of punishing them and preventing them from doing it in the first place. Having lived abroad and used public transport extensively overseas, it’s obvious that in the UK, it has a very low priority for politicians compared to abroad, except in London. Two things need to happen; deregulation needs to end completely, and adequate, stable funding needs to be found for the long-term. One without the other is pointless. Our local Pudsey MP is has already stated that he thinks the solution is more competition; where’s he been since 1986 when it all started!? The competition broke down years ago, and even if we still had it, surveys have shown that most people want integration within the bus system and preferably with other modes as well, because only a fully-intergrated joined-up system can even begin to compete with the sheer convenience of the private car. The current public transport set-up is a joke – you couldn’t come up with a stronger incentive to use your car than the current public transport farce we have.
I agree with everything you’ve said, Saggi. The changeover process is stuck in a governmental bureaucratic process and in the meantime people who don’t have access to their own transport, often the most disadvantaged people in society, have to suffer the consequences of a privatized bus company that only really cares about making shedloads money.
Most of the funding required to keep bus services running comes from central government – which is currently Conservative. Without a long term strategy and sufficient funding, sadly Leeds’s public transport network will continue to deteriorate.
The Conservatives shouldn’t have deregulated buses in the first place. Labour should’ve gone through the franchising process to operate a system like London has now all over the country when they were in power. So in many ways, both parties are just as inept as each other.
Seems to me that this long experiment with the privatisation of bus services has failed and these services should now be returned to direct local authority operation?
Due to proposed cuts in public transport ie. 508 , x11,9 and ,9a which unfortunately I use on a regular basis , I am 76 by the way , and live in Pudsey , we are virtually cut off from key areas , so Pudsey is no longer a great place to live any more so our council taxes do not reflect the great amenities available from here are the council planning on cutting the council tax to reflect this ,I don’t think so .
GO GREEN, SAVE ENERGY USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT THE GOVERNMENT SAYS , HOW CAN WE POSSIBLY DO THAT .
I have just come back from Fuengirola in Spain where the bus service is free to everyone if they can do it why can’t we .
The powers that be need to get there finger out and come up with a solution pretty quickly I think
Kayleigh Ingham, commercial director of First West Yorkshire, said:
“We appreciate that some amendments will be disappointing for customers affected.”
To say I’m angry is an understatement. How arrogant and patronizing! I wonder if Kayleigh has ever waited for a bus for over an hour on a cold dark wet night? Or, if she’s had to walk a mile to get to a different bus stop because the service she used before no longer runs? It’s not so much ‘disappointing’. We need a service that’s run to meet passenger’s needs, not a greedy fat cat bus company that is constantly feeding its shareholders. The bus services in Leeds are broken. When is somebody going to actually grab the bull by the horns and really do something about it?
Tracy Brabin, an has-been crap actress from Constipation Street & Haemorroid Farm. LOL. She was disgussing local buses on BBC Radio Leeds yesterday morning & stated that she’s gonna try to get a private bus company at White Rose Shopping Centre bus depot & back into Pudsey Bus Station on a regular daily basis. We’ll see if Miss Brabin achieves it. She also lied about using public transport regularly! Brabin only uses public transport when she’s promoting it, but she really does drive a car through Leeds City Centre.