TRANSPORT UPDATE FROM THE COMBINED AUTHORITY

I have received the following Transport update from the Combined Authority:

“Two weeks ago,  I updated you on what we have been doing to support public transport during the COVID-19 lockdown period. We face a major milestone next week as non-essential retail opens and I thought it useful to give you a further update and to share with you a briefing note which gives you further information about what is happening in your area.

During the initial phase of the pandemic our focus has been on ensuring that services have remained available for key workers despite the tremendous financial pressures created by the huge fall in passenger numbers.  Alongside Government,  we are spending about £6m per month to provide bus services managing this with operators through the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance.

The recent relaxation of lockdown restrictions has seen an increase in patronage which, although not widespread, has prompted concern about overcrowding on some services. The further relaxation of restrictions on Monday, and in particular the re-opening of non-essential shops, is likely to pose further challenges to the public transport system. While we expect around 75% of normal bus and rail services to be running, social distancing means the capacity will only be 20% of normal and we need to make sure that is available for those who really need it

 We are asking the public to consider whether their journey is necessary and to consider cycling and walking alternatives. The authority and partner councils are working to make more space available for cyclists and pedestrians and are submitting plans to the Department for Transport on how to use our allocation of the support recently made available for active travel. Further details are available on the attached briefing note.

 However, within existing funding constraints and given the limits for operators on the number of vehicles and staff available, it is clear that public transport could face major challenges in meeting demand in the weeks ahead with the connected risk of increased car journeys, congestion and lower air quality.”

If you would like a copy of the full briefing please email me at barry.anderson@leeds.gov.uk