Public transport in Outer West Leeds needs to improve dramatically if Leeds Council is serious about luring people away from car usage.
That was the message from councillors on the Outer West Community Committee after hearing a presentation on the draft Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy, which is currently out to public consultation.
Making Leeds “brilliant for the bus” is one of the main ideas behind the strategy, which aims to take the city to a point where cars are no longer a necessity. It also says Leeds City Council would support the development and expansion of the rail network, making more stations more accessible with more facilities.
Councillors from three wards – Calverley & Farsley, Pudsey and Farnley & Wortley – listened to a presentation of the strategy at their meeting yesterday – and said the strategy had a number of issues to overcome if it was to be successful.
Cllr Peter Carlill (Labour, Calverley & Farsley) said:
“In order for people to make the shift out of cars they need real alternatives for actual journeys every day. In Calverley & Farsley we have a number of isolated centres where there are many difficulties getting between different areas if you’re not in a private car, walking across the Ring Road, A647 and getting across Dawsons Corner is a difficult one. There are difficulties for walking.
“On mass transit, even if we started now it’s not going to solve problems until the late 2030s or early 2040s – and that’s not going to solve problem that’s right in front of us. We’ve only got one rail station to get to Bramley and the city centre and there are capacity difficulties on lines and major stations. We are left with bus as the major alternative.
“Bus routes have been removed due to social distancing, and it was no surprise to me that the first cut was the number 35 in Rodley – it’s an area already with limited bus routes. routes kept on include the 16, which is incredibly profitable, but that takes an hour to get from Farsley to the city centre and goes around the houses. It takes 20 minutes in the car.
“People would use the bus if they were more frequent, reliable and went where they wanted to go.
“getting a bus to a pharmacy in Pudsey town, people’s nearest town, is just not possible. For example in Calverley it’s easier to get a bus to Leeds, Bradford or Kirkstall – three times as far than they need to go, simply because they can’t get to Pudsey in an easy journey.
“A conversation that needs to come out of this is around how buses are operated to meet the needs of the people of Leeds. If services are being removed in areas already not being well served, then we’re stepping backwards. Some of that is down to the operators, but a lot is down to the people making the decisions. That needs to be tied down in this strategy.”
Cllr David Blackburn (Green, Farnley & Wortley) said:
“One if great problems we have in our city is that buses don’t necessarily go where peope want them to. If you look at main bus routes they roughly go where the old trams used to go, with a bit bolted on. The number 4 is is essentially the number 11 tram.
“If I use public transport to get to Pudsey from where I live in Farnley, the bus fare would be more than it is to town and it would take two buses. There’s no way to join the spokes up – that is the problem in this city.”
Cllr Simon Seary (Cons, Pudsey) said the area was still without a park and ride facility. He added:
“When will we get one? New Pudsey Station would have massive benefits as a park and ride, particularly for people coming from Bradford. There’s no direct bus route from the centre of Pudsey to New Pudsey Station. These are two basic things but it seems we’d rather spend millions rather than the basics.”
Councillor Trish Smith (Cons, Pudsey) added:
“I feel the outer regions are being left out. There are areas of our ward – Tyersal – where people can get into Bradford much more easily than they can get into Pudsey.
“People are marooned but you’re not helping them. The strategy is a move forward but it’s not enough given the time and effort spent to get us this far. We need to move forward properly and and in a joined up fashion.”
Transport Strategy manager Paul Foster, who is helping to lead the strategy, said:
“We’re looking at park and ride expansion as a priority.
“The whole point about bus deregulation is we’re restricted in terms of having a say on where routes go and how often they run. Funding that comes through is often capital rather than revenue.
“That is what this strategy is all about, opening up that discussion. It’s not right and we need to improve it.”
Cllr Ann Forsaith (Green, Farnley & Wortley), added it was important to ‘cash in on behaviour changes’ over the past year. She said:
“There’s got to be a change of mindset if we’re going to get beyond the idea ‘roads are just for cars’.”
Cllr Ann Blackburn (Green, Farnley & Wortley) called on all councillors to set an example in terms of car usage. She also called for increased access to the consultation for people who don’t have computers.
Cllr Amanda Carter (Cons, Calverley & Farsley) echoed calls for a fully inclusive consultation. She added:
“Most people won’t even know about the consultation, and why should they bother when nobody listened to them about the cycle lane which goes through our ward? It’s not that they’re opposed to cycle lanes as most people aren’t, and people want to see them succeed.
“But the cycle superhighway has caused congestion, pollution and it’s dangerous. We’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get crossings. It’s chaos at Stanningley Bottom but no-one would listen. Why should they bother as they’ll just be ignored again?”
Paul Foster stressed the importance of introducing one integrated ticket, backed by demand responsive minibuses which you can book on an app. He said that funding to pilot that had been secured in east Leeds by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Cllr Andrew Carter (Cons, Calverley & Farsley) warned of the impact of Covid on future travel – he said some of the strategy might based on pre-Covid assumptions that may not still be accurate.
The strategy will upgrade key bus corridors to provide fast and reliable high frequency services, develop its park and ride offer on key routes across the city, and promote “demand responsive” transport services to offer flexibility and connectivity in areas not well served by traditional bus services.
Visit leedstransportstrategy.commonplace.is/ to learn more about the proposals, read the draft strategy in full or make comments.
The consultation runs until 26 March.