West Yorkshire Combined Authority – Transport Update

I have been sent the information below:

“The current situation is very challenging for transport and I thought it worthwhile giving you a brief update as to where things are this weekend. I am aware that many of you need to know how this is affecting your area and I have asked officers at WYCA to prepare more detailed notes for each District which I will send to you next week.  

As you know, we move to Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap on Monday with more people returning to work and some businesses reopening. Public transport provision is stepping up to support this, however the two metre social distancing requirement is severely limiting the number of people who can travel by bus and rail.  

Over the last two months, only around 50% of bus services have been operating. From Monday this will increase to over 75% and, on weekdays between 7am and 7pm, many routes will return to normal frequencies. Buses and bus stations have been adapted to meet the social distancing requirements with some seats marked off. Currently buses are coping with demand however there is an emerging risk that passengers will be left by “full” buses , especially from mid-June when some shops will be reopening. Following Transport Committee earlier in the month, I have written to the Secretary of State seeking more funding to provide additional capacity but the coming weeks look challenging.  

There is a similar picture on local rail where more train services have operated from 18 May. To date, passenger demand has been around 10% of normal and social distancing constraints have not been challenged. Again, there are concerns that social distancing may be more difficult to maintain as passenger demand grows. 

The Government’s response to this has been to ask people to avoid public transport if possible and use alternative ways of getting to work. I have expressed my concerns to the Minister that there are many people without cars needing to make journeys which are too long to walk or cycle. Under these circumstances, we must try and keep buses and trains available for those who do not have other options. It won’t be good for our health or the environment if, as a consequence of the Coronavirus crisis, more people travel around by car. 

We are encouraging those who are able to walk and cycle and I am aware of many initiatives that local Councils have started to make more space for people to do so. Working through our City Connect initiative, the Combined Authority is supporting these initiatives. This week we learned of additional Government funding for measures which make active travel safer and easier and will work with Council partners to deliver this. I have attached a briefing on active travel to this email which I hope you find useful. 

As we come out of lockdown, we will be dealing with a long term change in the economy. This will impact on how people travel around and how transport is funded.