First takes forward plans for New Bus for West Yorkshire with a new exhibition for stakeholders ahead of a wider consultation in the region

 

 

FirstGroup is pushing ahead with its alternative to plans for the introduction of the £250m NGT trolleybus scheme in West Yorkshire with a new consultation into its own plans for region-wide improvements to the bus network.

First’s New Bus for West Yorkshire offer is a three part proposal which would see the introduction of a fleet of new buses based on London’s New Routemaster, Oyster-style smart ticketing and working with stakeholders and partners to tackle congestion hot spots.

An exhibition outlining First’s proposals along with one of the original prototype New Routemaster vehicles from London, specially liveried in New Bus for West Yorkshire colours, was made available to local stakeholders earlier this month, before touring the region in order to get feedback from local communities.

The Aberdeen-based group says that the combination of multi-door entry and exit on the bus and smart ticketing would greatly speed up bus stop dwell times leading to significant journey time improvements.

“We want to test the reaction of people across West Yorkshire to the package of measures we are proposing which we believe could radically transform public transport in West Yorkshire,” said Paul Turner, First’s regional head of commercial. “Over the coming weeks we will be consulting with politicians, businesses and the public to gain their views.

“The other factors that will determine whether we go ahead with this significant investment are the completion of a bus partnership agreement with Metro and the new West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Negotiations have been going on between all the bus operators and Metro for a couple of years now and we need the agreement to provide the stability necessary to make major investment decisions. In other areas, similar partnership agreements have led to significant fare reductions and increases in passenger numbers.”

The consultation on the New Bus for West Yorkshire will be taking place at the same time as the public inquiry into the NGT trolleybus scheme, which has now adjourned for the summer.

Turner added: “Unlike the trolleybus, the New Bus proposal would bring significant benefits to a much larger number of customers throughout West Yorkshire and not just one route in Leeds, it could start to be introduced within the next 18 months and there is no financial risk to the tax-payer.”

Meanwhile, Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for the scope of the NGT public inquiry to be expanded to “consider not whether NGT should go ahead or not, but what the best public transport solution is for Leeds”.

The motion also contends that the scheme may not provide value for money in the long term and that government funding allocated to NGT should be made available to alternative public transport schemes in the city.

 

Pictured above: FirstGroup chief executive Tim O’Toole launches the New Bus for West Yorkshire consultation in Bramley with local MP and Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Rachel Reeves

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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