Dozens of bus users attended a public meeting in Farnley to voice their frustration over problems with the number 42 service.
The meeting, at Old Farnley Community Centre, heard bus users describe a catalogue of issues including unreliable and missing services, overcrowding, dirty buses and problems with the timetables.
Some residents spoke about how they’d missed hospital appointments or had almost lost their jobs because of late or missing buses – and some called for more services to be introduced.
Others mentioned problems with three buses coming at once and problems with congestion at bus stops in the city centre.
“My colleague from Sheffield gets into Leeds quicker than the time it takes me the four miles from Farnley into the city centre. Services are so slow and unreliable.”
“The problem isn’t with the bus service, it’s with the roads. In Leeds we have 1970s roads and 2018 traffic. We’re at a standstill. The council needs to do something with the roads before any of this can be sorted out.”
There were also calls to run shorter routes rather than having buses face delays in the city centre or at the other side of Leeds.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who chaired the meeting along with Farnley & Wortley Councillor Matt Gibson (Lab), urged operator FirstBus to hold a meaningful consultation with users of the 42 regarding the problems ahead of a new timetable coming out during the autumn. She added:
“I hope you will go away and reflect on what you’ve heard here this evening. We need to see some improvement in the reliability of the services because we’ve heard some real horror stories about people not being able to get to hospital or almost lose their jobs because buses have not turned up.”
Ms Reeves encouraged residents to continue to complain directly to FirstBus or to her office to ensure the operator was fully aware of the problems.
Brandon Jones, head of external relations at First Bus in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester acknowledged to the 75 people attending the meeting that there were problems with the service.
He told the meeting that 92% of number 42 services left on time, but the number of buses reaching their final destination on time fell to just 80% – First’s target for both was 95%.
Mr Jones, who fielded questions throughout the evening, said the reliability figures had improved over the past six months, helped by the introduction of contactless payments. He conceded:
“We are below where we want to be.”
He said there could be a number of reasons why buses weren’t meeting their timetables, including traffic congestion, the number of stops and time taken to get on buses, driver sickness and breakdowns.
Mr Jones promised to consult users about issues and take their feedback on board ahead of autumn timetable changes.
A follow up meeting to see how concerns are being addressed has been mooted for the autumn.