Cllr Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Highways, is calling for urgent Government intervention to support bus services, after it emerged that further permanent cuts to services in the district, and in West Yorkshire are planned for early October by bus companies.
These additional cuts come after an incredibly difficult and turbulent year for the district’s bus users which has seen an overall picture of services being reduced, or withdrawn, becoming less frequent and with fewer evening and weekend services, from 1– 3 October.
Cllr Matthew Morley said: “Whilst, I accept that bus companies are facing a challenging time, the need for this district and the wider area to have a reliable, frequent and affordable bus services has to be made a priority.
“Across our district one in four households do not own a car and rely completely on public transport. When you also factor in the fact that we all are trying to tackle climate change and encourage a shift towards more bus and train use, the situation this district finds itself in with bus services is completely unacceptable.”
The latest cuts come despite the extension of funding through Government’s Bus Recovery Grant (until the end of March 2023), which offers some financial help to bus companies – but operators will, no longer receive support for the services and journeys they cease to run. This funding was, also, not enough to prevent a series of earlier service cuts. In April, Arriva announced plans to temporarily reduce its Saturday services on the majority of its routes, to a Sunday timetable.
Explaining his call for Government intervention, Cllr Morley added: “It’s clear that, despite the recent extended Government support for bus companies, the current way bus services in our district are run is simply not working. In recent years, we have seen cut, after cut, after cut to our bus services. And it cannot be a coincidence that services are to be further reduced as the limited, short term financial support the Government provided to bus companies is being withdrawn.
“We need the Government to recognise this is a crisis, to take immediate action and put additional, urgent support in place, so that thousands of people can have access to services that are essential to their day to day lives.
“During the February cuts; thanks to successful lobbying by Wakefield Council; West Yorkshire Combined Authority managed to put in place a small number of alternatives which partially salvaged some of the damage done by the February changes. But a long-term solution is urgently needed.
“These latest cuts will impact further on many people’s lives, and it is unacceptable, and we need the Government to offer much greater support, to get services back on track. It’s what people need and deserve.
Cllr Morley added: “Wakefield Council continues to support Mayor Tracy Brabin’s ambition for the return of full public control of buses across West Yorkshire. This cannot come soon enough before our services are completely decimated.”
“We also support and the welcome the Mayors recent actions in capping fares. However, this is of little comfort to those communities across the Wakefield district who lack decent services to begin with ”
The changes will see:
148/149 Wakefield – Pontefract – Knottingley.
No longer running through several residential estates, which means that some passengers have further to walk to the main road. Will no longer serve Priory Estate, Featherstone, Wentcliffe Estate, Ferrybridge and England Estate in Knottingley which will leave these communities isolated. All services will run via Ferrybridge, leaving the main Knottingley/ Pontefract Road served only by infrequent services.
107 Wakefield – Thornes – Durkar – Asda- Newmillerdam – Kettlethorpe
Service will terminate at Asda.This will mean there will be no Arriva service to Newmillerdam.
108 Wakefield – Durkar – Crigglestone – West Bretton – Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Service will be withdrawn. The changes mean a loss of service to Durkar Low Lane and Hollin Lane in Crigglestone.
408/409 Pontefract – Doncaster – Withdrawing this service severs the cross-boundary link, and leaves the communities of Darrington and Wentbridge unserved; Thorpe Audlin with a greatly reduced service. However colleagues at West Yorkshire Combined Authority are exploring alternatives for connecting those communities to Pontefract only; during off-peak hours only.
118 Wakefield – White Rose Centre – Leeds – Service to no longer operate through to Leeds and will terminate at White Rose. This will restrict access to Leeds for residents of Wrenthorpe and other communities along the route.
111 Pinderfields Hospital Shuttle – There will be a frequency reduction from 20 to 30 minutes This will particularly inconvenience those who need to travel into Wakefield on another bus who are likely to wait longer for a connection to and from the hospital using this service which takes people to the main entrance of the hospital and is particularly vital for those who find the half kilometre walk to bus stops on Aberford Road to be challenging.
195 Wakefield – Crofton – Ryhill – South Hiendley – Hemsworth – Reduction to some evening 195 journeys and reduction on Sundays with the 195 only operating every two hours. This will leave no service to South Heindley from the later part of the afternoon peak; and throughout the evening.
147 Wakefield – Altofts – Normanton – Old Snydale – Featherstone – Pontefract
All journeys will be withdrawn from the mid- afternoon peak onwards: There will be no service after that time to Old Snydale and parts of Normanton
163 /166 Leeds – Garforth – Kippax – Castleford.
Evening service frequencies will reduce from 30 to 60 minutes.
231 /232 Wakefield – Horbury – Netherton/Middlestown – Huddersfield
Reduction in the combined evening frequency from the later part of the afternoon peak. This will result in the communities of Netherton and Middlestown each having a two hourly frequency after this time.
268 Wakefield – Flushdyke – Dewsbury – Bradford
Significant reduction on frequency from the later part of the afternoon peak
Many other services, including popular routes are having evening and early journeys withdrawn from their timetables. Some direct peak period commuter journeys into Leeds are being withdrawn.