Bus fare cap of £2 welcomed by Wakefield Council

Proposals that will see lower bus fares and funding to help rebuild bus routes affected by service cuts has been met with mixed views.

By Nick Frame
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 9:24 am

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracey Brabin, this week announced that passengers boarding any West Yorkshire bus from September would pay no more than £2 per journey.

Around £25m will also be made available for new bus routes to help enhance and expand vital links between local communities.

The move has been welcomed by Wakefield Council.

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Wakefield Bus Station.

Coun Matthew Morley, the council’s cabinet member for planning and highways, said: “At a time when the cost of living is rising, it’s great to see the mayor supporting our district and West Yorkshire with lower bus fares.

"I’m sure this saving will be welcomed by many of our residents, making bus travel a more affordable choice and hopefully encouraging more people onto buses.

“However, this district is still crippled by significant cuts to our bus services in some areas.

"We continue to lobby the Government to step up and give bus operators continued support until passenger numbers increase again.

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin.

"Reliable bus services are crucial to our residents who rely on public transport, not just for work and learning but to prevent them being isolated. The negative impact this can have on people’s standard of living, life opportunities and mental health should not be underestimated.

“We very much welcome the news that additional funding has been made available for new and existing bus routes, and we will be working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to see how this could be used to support our district.”

The proposals comes after West Yorkshire Combined Authority submitted a revised bus service improvement plan to the Department for Transport earlier this month.

The new £2 maximum fare will be negotiated with the bus operators through the new West Yorkshire Enhanced Partnership, which started on 1 April this year.

As well as single fares, the multi-operator WY DaySaver tickets available through the MCard app and smartcard will be reduced from £5.50 to £4.50 from September.

If the plans are approved by the Department for Transport later this year, the new £2 maximum fare will be the first scheme delivered under West Yorkshire’s Enhanced Partnership.

However, the move has been met with a luke-warm reception by the lobby group, Better Buses for West Yorkshire.

Campaigner Matthew Topham said the announcement was "welcome start", but described it as a "pale imitation" of the changes coming in from Lancashire.

He said: “Manchester’s new franchising scheme has unlocked a £2 hopper fare so a single ticket can be used on any number of buses and across multiple operators across a single journey. It is also set to avoid using any further public funding.

“But what about in West Yorkshire? Will I still have to pay £4 for just a 20-minute journey from Otley to Horsforth, just because I need to use two bus companies and two separate singles? Will the public now pay twice, on the bus and from our council budgets?

“Here, private operators will see their profits boom and pay out dividends to their owners - in the case of Arriva and Keighley Bus, the German and French Governments - rather than reinvesting the windfall into better services for local people as made possible in Manchester by public control.”