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Metro has called upon the recently-formed
Association of Bus Operators in West Yorkshire (ABOWY) to present
its plans, before the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority
Executive Board's meeting on Friday 23 March.
"We have held extensive discussions with the bus operators about
whether they can meet our requirements for going down the
partnership route or whether we press ahead with proposals for
Quality Contracts which would see bus companies bidding to run
services to franchises set by Metro," explained Metro Chairman Cllr
"In particular, we want to see details of ABOWY's proposals on
ticketing and how they are going to change the current situation
where passengers are forced to pay premium prices for journeys that
involve travelling on more than one companies' buses.
"This is a growing issue which more and more people are
complaining about," he continued. "MetroCards provide passengers
with this multi-operator option but ABOWY's members have always
insisted, through the West Yorkshire Ticketing Company, that they
are priced significantly higher than operator-only tickets, are not
transferable and are not available for specific local areas.
"ABOWY's members are penalising passengers for wanting choice,
flexibility and a good deal, and they are also making fares and
tickets harder for passengers to understand."
Metro is also concerned about the value-for-money findings of
the Competition Commission's recent investigation into the bus
industry which showed that at least 50%, but possibly as many as
98%, of West Yorkshire bus services were being detrimentally
affected by a lack of competition in the industry. Based upon the
Commission's report that says the national cost of this competition
deficit is £150m, Metro has calculated that in West Yorkshire
this could equate to as much as £25m as a result of higher
fares and poorer services.
If the ITA considers ABOWY's proposals are not good enough,
Metro will continue working on the introduction of a Bus Quality
Contracts scheme. The first stage would be the publication of a
Public Interest Statement, showing how a Bus Quality Contracts
Scheme would be a value-for-money scheme benefitting passengers and
non-passengers alike, followed by a public consultation in the
summer. The plans would then need to be assessed and approved by
the Department for Transport, meaning the first Quality Contract
Scheme contracts could be issued in early 2013.
In October 2010, over 95% of voters who responded to the
Guardian's question "Should Metro regulate Leeds' buses?"
agreed that Metro should be allowed to set the specification for
Leeds's buses, and just over 90% said that bus services in Leeds
were poor or in need of improvement.
The kind of Partnership scheme ABOWY is proposing should deliver
the benefits of a Bus Quality Contract Scheme, but it would not
contain legally-enforceable contracts and service standards.
"We want an environment where bus passengers can rely on a
stable service network, and are not tied to specific operators or
inconvenient journeys because of ticket costs and restrictions, and
unless the operators' proposals can assure this we think Quality
Contracts are the answer," said Cllr Lewis.
"Quality Contracts, which are similar to how bus services are
successfully and profitably organised in London and most European
cities, would also encourage greater use of buses and reduce
"And the Scheme will also produce savings for Council Tax-payers
and contribute to the MyJourney West Yorkshire Local Transport
Plan's objectives of improving the economy, environment and quality
of life for everyone in West Yorkshire."
A report to the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority
(WYITA) Executive Board on Friday 27 January updates members on
these latest developments.
Details of Metro's proposals for a Quality
Download the ITA Executive Board Report (pdf :
Visit the ABOWY website