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Councillors of all parties on the West
Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (WYITA) voted unanimously
to back work to develop a Quality Bus Contract Scheme at their
Every member indicated with a show of
hands that they supported the recommendations in the report.
Metro chairman Cllr Ryk Downes said,
"Our role is to work on behalf of local people and we need to be
able to deliver the reliable services which the people of West
Yorkshire want, need and deserve.
"We need to take action that will
prevent bus operators making unjustified cuts to services and
blaming fare rises on fuel prices, despite them having already
bought fuel at hedged prices, which happened in West Yorkshire
earlier this year."
Opposition Leader Cllr Mick Lyons
said, "It's unfortunate we have come to this but the only way to
make sure buses serve the people of West Yorkshire is to introduce
"We need to pursue this work and
continue lobbying MPS of all parties," he added.
The ITA's Conservative leader Cllr
Chris Greaves said, "The bus service being provided are not meeting
people's needs and passengers have been let down and
Quality Contracts are the best way to
take control of the situation and provide the level of transport
people need, he said.
A Bus Quality Contract Scheme would
respond to the concerns and complaints of local bus users and mean
the kind of franchised bus network in West Yorkshire that people in
London have enjoyed for years.
Through a Bus Quality Contract, Metro
would be able to specify local bus routes, frequencies, and fares,
removing the current confusion over different operators' tickets
and reducing the number of service changes. Operators would bid to
run services, which would be managed though contracts designed to
provide consistent high standards across the county.
As well as serving the main centres,
the bus network would provide good interchange with other bus and
rail services. Complementary measures would include additional bus
priority and more high-quality shelters, real-time information,
on-bus CCTV and eco-driving initiatives
"We want to use Quality Contracts to
increase bus use, rather than continuing to see price hikes and
service withdrawals which are resulting in a decline in the numbers
of fare-paying passengers" said Metro Chairman Cllr Ryk Downes.
"This is not about interfering as the
bus operators and some national politicians might say," he
continued. "It's about developing the types of affordable bus
services that local people tell us they want and ensuring the
experience and skill of bus operators is focused upon delivering
services to a consistently high standard though ten year
Greater service stability, and the
benefits of a properly integrated public transport system as found
in London and European cities, would attract new customers, reduce
congestion and protect local transport jobs
"We want to be able to reward
operators for providing a good service while also being in a
position to take corrective measures if passengers are let down,"
continued Cllr Downes.
He said that the Quality Contract
scheme development process would include a full financial appraisal
of benefits, costs and value-for-money before a decision to proceed
"Over £90m of taxpayers money is
already spent each year supporting bus services in West Yorkshire
with very little influence on the standard of service received by
customers," said Cllr Downes.
"We have already identified that we
could achieve better value if Metro were to specify and contract
out the services on the basis of the 8% pre-tax profit norm rather
than the near 20% that is being made by one local operator."
"My colleagues on the other ITAs
representing the country's major metropolitan areas, are also
pushing for a commitment to Quality Contracts from all parties at a
national level, so we have the option of developing this
franchising environment where passengers will no longer have to
worry about sudden service changes, withdrawals and unjustified
"If people in London deserve this
quality of bus service, which is also the norm throughout Europe,
then so do the people of West Yorkshire and the other major
conurbations in England "
Read the full West Yorkshire Integrated Transport