A lifeline bus service through Calverley and Rodley has been withdrawn from bus operators First.
Angry commuters had previously criticised the number 35 Leeds to Greengates bus route, hitting out at its lack of reliability which had left passengers stranded and unable to get home on occasions.
The cancellation of the service, which will take place later this month, has been met with disappointment by passengers on social media. One said:
“Very few people using the 35 before lockdown due to poor timetabling with the 60, and ‘reliability’ improvements in the timetable mean it spent 20 mins sat in laybys on route. I was avoiding for some time and this is no surprise.”
“We have appalling transport links considering we are between Bradford and Leeds. One bus every 30/40 minutes is dreadful.”
Calverley and Farsley councillor Peter Carlill (Lab) said the announcement was ‘deeply disappointing’ and said he would work with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to come up with a long-term solution. He added:
“Even before this announcement I was clear that there was a lack of bus provision in our area, and this further decrease in provision is a massive step backwards.
“Regular passengers will be aware that this route has not been running through our communities for several months due to reduced capacity on the network, but before that had many issues with lateness and reliability.
“This announcement is disappointing as I had many discussions in the past with First around the poor performance of this route, after which the reliability did improve. I did challenge them then that this route did not seem to be their top priority and wasn’t getting the investment it needed – a suspicion which I fear has now been proved correct.
“I had been working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to try to plug the current gap, and the operators of the 60 Aireline have responded by introducing more double-deckers on their service to serve the extra passengers, which is welcome in the short term.
“The number of passengers on the route is obviously not at its usual level, but I will be seeking to work further with operators and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to come up with a long-term solution.”
WLD conducted a poll last May asking for people’s views on the reliability of the service, with more than 90 per cent of respondents criticising its reliability.
A spokesperson for First said:
“The change is driven by the need to meet passenger demand across the network as we continue to adapt to the capacity limitations that keep our customers and staff safe.
“As we are now operating at practically 100% of pre-Covid mileage, we continue to do our best to balance resource and ensure we can carry the maximum number of passengers. Whilst the number of Bus Full incidents is very low, we are clearly keen to ensure customers are not left wherever possible. This has led to the reallocation of resource in a number of areas such as school duplicates and corridors with high passenger demand such as Headingley.
“The change reflects this ongoing response to allocate resource where it is most needed and takes into account relatively low passenger numbers on service 35 (majority of trips are single figures) as well as the fact the Leeds-Kirkstall corridor is well served by alternative services 33/ 34, 60, 508 and A1.
“We appreciate the 35 service (pre-Covid) served passengers beyond Kirkstall in Rodley & Calverley and we will continue to discuss such connectivity and the wider Leeds network opportunities with West Yorkshire Combined Authority in the best interests of our passengers and communities.”