A Farnley councillor has expressed his dismay after a lifeline bus service between Leeds and Pudsey was axed due to a private company going into administration.
Leeds-based bus company CT Plus Yorkshire last week announced the immediate closure of all its services across West Yorkshire following pre-pandemic struggles, Covid-19 lockdowns and rising fuel costs.
Services axed included the 81 and 81A service between Leeds city centre, Old Farnley and Pudsey.
Councillor Mark Sewards (Lab, Farnley & Wortley) has said the service needs replacing as soon as possible as some residents had been left isolated by the lack of a local service. Cllr Sewards said: “Like many residents, I was dismayed when the 81 bus service was cancelled following the collapse of CT Plus. This route is an essential one for many residents and it is a damming indictment of our current system that it was cancelled so abruptly.
“I’ve have spoken with West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and her team about the need to replace the bus route as soon as possible. It cannot be right that some residents, including the elderly, now only have access to Leeds via expensive taxis or by walking considerable distances to catch the 42, which can be very unreliable.
“Tracy’s team are negotiating with the other bus operators and asking them to share the financial stress and provide an alternative as soon as possible for the cancelled route. They are also seeking funding from the Department for Transport to secure unprofitable routes. I have also been feeding people’s messages about the 81 directly into this process and I have stressed the need for an immediate resolution.
“Long term, this has only cemented my view that we need our buses back in public control. I was elected on a promise to improve the buses in Farnley and Wortley and I will not stop until we have a permanent solution to the chaos passengers face.”
The 81 bus also served Troydale, and its loss has left some residents isolated.
Cllr Simon Seary (Cons, Pudsey) also expressed his concerns. He said: “I’m extremely concerned to hear about CT Plus Yorkshire ceasing trading, leaving many local residents isolated. It’s about time that the elected Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, as chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, started taking responsibility for the poor bus services across the area. If she was closer to the issues things would and could have been different.”
The 81 service was operated by social enterprise HCT Group, which said in a statement last week: “Everyone at CT Plus Yorkshire and Powell’s – and across the wider HCT Group – has worked tirelessly to put the operations in Yorkshire on a sustainable footing, but there is nothing further to be done and the situation cannot continue.
“We want to ensure services to the public are not disrupted, but most importantly we want to preserve as many jobs as possible. We are now talking to commissioners across Yorkshire, seeing if we can transfer as many services as possible to new operators.”
The number 30 – Horsforth, Horsforth Vale to Pudsey – service has also ended.
West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said her thoughts were with the drivers and staff who were now without employment, but feared this was “only the start” of closures. “Bus patronage hasn’t risen as quickly as we’d like after the pandemic, which is why I and others have been calling on government to extend its Bus Recovery Grant beyond October,” she told the BBC.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority has launched The Mayor’s Big Bus Chat consultation to help shape the future of buses in West Yorkshire.