Leeds retains appetite for mass transit plans
Despite losing its battle to introduce a trolleybus system, Leeds remains committed to a ‘mass transit service’, according to its council leader Judith Blake who has unveiled plans to invest £270million in public transport in the city over the next four years as part of the Leeds Transport Strategy.
Enhancing bus and park-and-ride provision is a key element of the strategy, with more than £110million is to be invested in a range of infrastructure improvements, supported by £71million from First West Yorkshire for at least 284 new ‘low-emissions buses’ by the end of 2021. The council leader points out that currently 250,000 bus journeys are made every day in Leeds, and the measures outlined are part of an aim to double the numbers of bus passengers in the next 10 years.
The report identifies plans for bus priority measures on the A61 south and north, A660 and A647 and also suggests a city centre Ultra Low Emission Bus Zone.
The £270million total investment includes £173.5million of Department for Transport funding secured following the decision not to proceed with the New Generation Transport trolleybus, with this funding needing to be invested in public transport before the end of 2021. The additional funding comes from First West Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and private developer contributions.
“The investment now is a response to the action people told us they wanted to see delivered as soon as possible, but as a city and for the regional economy we continue to need a viable mass transit system which benefits all communities in Leeds and will boost growth and onward connectivity,” says Blake. “Mass transit systems can cost around £80million per kilometre and take a long time to plan and deliver, so such a scheme was not possible with the current level of funding available and also the timescale the government set us.
“To bring about such a scheme must remain the ambition so we are calling on all key partners and everyone in the city to work together to secure the very significant amount of funding we need.”