Bus Reform

    Why is this consultation taking place?

    The Combined Authority believes it needs to change the way local buses are run to achieve our ambitions for better buses in West Yorkshire. Buses play a vital role in West Yorkshire, getting people to places, connecting our communities, and shaping our economy. But evidence shows passengers face many challenges resulting in poor satisfaction and fewer people choosing to travel by bus. The way that buses are currently run gives the Combined Authority limited ability to change this. 

    The consultation will inform a decision by the Mayor of West Yorkshire on whether or not to introduce bus franchising in the region. This is a formal consultation as required by the Transport Act 2000 as amended by the Bus Services Act 2017 (‘the Act’) 

    The Combined Authority has looked at and conducted an assessment (‘the Assessment’) of options to run buses within the West Yorkshire Region – this compares two bus reform options, the Proposed Franchising Scheme and the Enhanced Partnership Plus (EP+) to how buses are currently run to (the EP Reference Case). 

    Following an assessment of the options and independent audit of this, our preferred option is the Proposed Franchising Scheme. Before a final decision is made, we are required by law to seek views from the statutory consultees on the Proposed Franchising Scheme and the conclusions of the Assessment. We are also seeking to engage the public on our plans. 

    What is bus reform?

    Bus reform is the process of changing the way in which buses are run to improve services and the passenger experience, for the benefit of the people of West Yorkshire more broadly. The Transport Act 2000 sets out the statutory powers that Local Transport Authorities, like the Combined Authority, have to reform buses – which include establishing franchising and enhanced partnerships. These different options for running buses are described in more detail in the Consultation Document 

    The Combined Authority has been exploring bus reform in West Yorkshire over recent years, in line with the required legal processes, as set out within the Consultation Document.

    What is Franchising?

    Franchising is a legal model where buses are under the control of a local authority (in West Yorkshire this would be the Combined Authority). The franchising model has been in operation in London since 1984 and was introduced in Greater Manchester in September 2023. 

    Under franchising, the Combined Authority would set the routes, frequency, fares and overall standards of buses in our region. The existing commercially-led market would be replaced, with private bus operators no longer being able to run most services independently. Bus services would instead be operated under franchise contracts, where bus operators would bid to run the services through a competitive procurement process managed by the Combined Authority.

    What is an Enhanced Partnership? 

    An enhanced partnership is a legal model under which private bus operators and local authorities make a statutory plan and scheme(s) which set out a shared vision, targets, and make specific commitments about how they will work together to improve local buses.  

    Under an enhanced partnership, local bus services remain privately owned and operated (‘deregulated’) and bus operators continue to take revenue from fares and make independent decisions about how bus services are run. 

    In March 2022, the Combined Authority made, in partnership with private bus operators and West Yorkshire districts, an Enhanced Partnership Plan and Enhanced Partnership Scheme. A further Enhanced Partnership Scheme was made in November 2022.

    Where can I find more information on what Bus Franchising would look like in West Yorkshire?

    You can see our proposals in more detail, by clicking on this link (opens in new tab). Here you can look through our consultation materials, including the Proposed Franchising Scheme.

    What would it cost the Combined Authority to introduce the Proposed Franchising Scheme?

    In West Yorkshire, changing to franchising would require an initial, one–off investment by the Combined Authority of £15.1m over four years (transition cost). This would cover things like consultancy, mobilisation, and IT costs. Transition management costs for that four–year period would be an additional £5.3million. 

    The Assessment also sets out the additional costs to the initial one off transition costs associated with implementing the Proposed Franchising Scheme in relation to investing in depots and fleet, which would be owned by the Combined Authority. The costs are: 

    • Depot investment of £85.5million 
    • Fleet investment of £252 million over a 15-year period 

    Investment in assets (depots and fleet) is likely to be funded through public sector borrowing. Transitional costs and management costs would not qualify for public sector borrowing and it is assumed that these would be funded from the Combined Authority’s reserves or other revenue funding sources (such as the single investment fund) and repaid over the 15-year appraisal period. 

    Beyond the initial costs to introduce franchising, funding sources for the ongoing delivery of the Proposed Franchising Scheme include: 

    • Farebox revenue – the money collected from fare paying passengers 
    • The Transport Levy – an existing fund made up of contributions from the five West Yorkshire districts 
    • Government funding – this includes funding the Combined Authority gets to deliver our BSIP and zero emission bus funding 
    • Bus Services Operator Grant – a government grant paid to operators of eligible bus services and community transport organisations to help them recover some of their fuel costs 

    More information about funding and finance relating to Franchising can be found in the Consultation Document.

    What is the EP+ ?

    The EP+ aims to be the most ambitious Enhanced Partnership that could be delivered in West Yorkshire, within the legal restrictions of the model and the funding available. It would be based on additional interventions to improve the bus service across West Yorkshire

    The development of the EP+ was supported by engagement with operators to understand what bus operators may be able to deliver and commit to under the EP+. The EP+ presented in the Assessment therefore reflects both initial work undertaken by the Combined Authority and additional interventions that came out of partnership discussions with bus operators. 

    The operator EP+ proposal and letters of support have been published as Appendix 1.3 to the full Assessment document, and these have been considered by the Combined Authority and reflected in the Assessment. 

    A full description of the EP+ is included in Section 1.2 of the Consultation Document.

    What would it cost the Combined Authority to introduce the EP+?

    There are additional transition and management costs associated with introducing the EP+ of £1.9 million over a 2–year period. More detail of this included in section 4.4 of the Consultation Document. 

    Beyond the initial costs to introduce the EP+, ongoing funding sources for the EP+ include: 

    • The Transport Levy – an existing fund made up of contributions from the five West Yorkshire districts. 
    • Government funding – this includes funding the Combined Authority gets to deliver our BSIP and zero emission bus funding. 
    • Bus Services Operator Grant (for tendered services) – a government grant paid to operators of eligible bus services and community transport organisations to help them recover some of their fuel costs. 
    • Revenue from tendered supported services (some of which are let on a gross cost contract basis). 
    • Payments from operators to use the Combined Authority owned bus stations. 

    There are no assets purchased for the Combined Authority under the EP+ and therefore sources of finance do not need to be considered.

    More information about funding and finance relating to the EP+ can be found in the Consultation Document.

    What is the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP)?

    Our BSIP sets out the ambitions to deliver the Government’s National Bus Strategy. It is a document that has been developed in collaboration with bus operators and takes account of views expressed by West Yorkshire residents and local interest groups on how we can improve our bus services, and the interventions we need to implement to achieve this.  

    Through the BSIP we hope to achieve our vision for: an enhanced and more cohesive bus network; clear and simple fares; improved and more inclusive customer service and support; priority for buses on our roads and more green and better vehicles. To find out more please visit: bus-service-improvement-plan.pdf (westyorks-ca.gov.uk) 

    Who runs buses in West Yorkshire now?

    There are currently 26 private bus companies in operation in West Yorkshire who set the majority of routes, timetables, fare and the standards for buses - with First, Arriva and Transdev being the three largest operators in the region. The Combined Authority does not run any of the buses, but it does contract bus companies to run around 15% of the region’s bus services – providing socially necessary services (those which are important to people but don’t make much money) and extending otherwise commercial services.

    What is the Combined Authority and what does it do?

    The Combined Authority was formed in April 2014 to be the driving force for economic growth across Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield. The Combined Authority brings together key decision-making powers into a single body. The Combined Authority also develops local transport throughout West Yorkshire under the transport network, Metro. To find out more visit: (westyorks-ca.gov.uk)

    What is Metro?

    Metro is the transport network of the Combined Authority. The name Metro and the Metro M logo is the symbol for transport across West Yorkshire, including bus stations, bus stops and shelters and the county’s 69 rail stations. Travel centres, the MetroLine call centre, the Metro website and the ‘yournextbus’ real-time service are also part of the Metro Brand. To find out more visit: www.wymetro.com

    What is the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance?

    The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance brings together the Combined Authority and bus operators to enable the development and implementation of plans for the improvement of local bus services. This is based on the legal provisions recently introduced by the government for Voluntary Partnership Agreements, defined by the Department for Transport as agreements entered into by transport authorities and bus operators, to deliver benefits to local bus users.

Consultation FAQs

    When can I take part?

    The public consultation is open from 10 October 2023 until 7 January 2024. 

    Who can take part in the public consultation? Can I let other people know about it? 

    Anyone can take part. Please tell your friends and family about it. 

    Please share the project page with anyone you think would be interested in taking part in the public consultation.  

    You can submit a joint response on behalf of a group or organisation, please do so by emailing busreform@westyorks-ca.gov.uk. Please also share the link with your colleagues or members so they have the opportunity to provide an individual response, should they wish to do so.  

    How do I respond?

    We would like you to fill in a questionnaire. The short version contains 10 questions, and the long version contains 47 questions. You can answer either version of the questionnaire and you do not have to answer all the questions. You can complete and submit our questionnaire here.

    To complete the short survey, it is recommended that you read section 1 (the Executive Summary’) of the Consultation Document.

    To answer the full set of survey questions it is recommended that you read the full Consultation Document.

    If you cannot fill in the questionnaire online, you can fill in a paper copy of the questionnaire at one of our events. Your completed paper copy can then be handed in at the event or sent to: FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM WYCA 

    What is the difference between the short and long survey?

    We have created the short form questionnaire mainly for you to use in response to the consultation, focusing on the key areas we need your views on. The long form questionnaire is mainly for stakeholders and statutory consultees, those with a good level of knowledge and interest in the bus market and how it runs. You are welcome to fill out whichever questionnaire you wish.

    Will I be able to attend an in-person event?

    We are hosting a number of events. Our team will be available to answer your questions about and support you.  

    Our events are listed on our Your Voice page.  

    How will my feedback be used and when will we find out the results?

    Your responses will be independently assessed as part of the consultation process. All responses will be considered when making any decision on whether to introduce the Proposed Franchising Scheme. This decision is currently expected on 14 March 2024. However, it is subject to change depending on the progress and outcome of the consultation and any subsequent decision-making processes. 

    Will you keep me updated on progress?

    You can follow any updates on the Your Voice Bus Hub.

    What will the personal information I provide be used for? 

    All personal information (such as age, postcode, gender) you provide will be anonymised and only used for analysis of the key findings and trends in this consultation. When we look at the feedback, we separate it by things like age and gender which helps us to understand how ideas may affect different groups of people. This helps us to develop our ideas. You can read our Privacy Notice by clicking on this link(opens in a new tab).

    How can I contact the project team?

    You can contact us via email at bus.reform@westyorks-ca.gov.uk or call us on 0113 245 7676 (MetroLine Contact Centre).

    What happens if I don’t submit my response in time?

    The deadline for responses is 11.59pm on 7 January 2024. If you want to respond please make sure you do so before this time as we cannot guarantee that late responses will be accepted.

    How do I get a accessible or translated version of the consultation document and questionnaire?

    The consultation document, executive summary and questionnaire are all accessible and are compatible with most translation software. You can access them here.

    If you need to respond in a different way, or require consultation materials in a different format or language, you can contact us at: 

    • Email: busreform@westyorks-ca.gov.uk 
    • Telephone: 0113 245 7676 (MetroLine) 

    I need help filling out the questionnaire

    If you need assistance with filling out the questionnaire, you can come along to one of our local engagement events listed on our main page where a member of our team will be able to help you fill out the questionnaire. 

    You can also call MetroLine and leave your name and contact details – one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible. 

    What happens next?

    All responses will be received and processed by the Combined Authority and shared with DJS Research to be analysed as part of the consultation process. 

    Once the responses are analysed, and the report prepared by DJS Research has been considered by the Combined Authority and the Mayor, the Combined Authority will publish a report setting out its response to the consultation and the Mayor’s decision on whether to make the Proposed Franchising Scheme. 

    This decision is currently expected on 14 March 2024. However, this date may be subject to change depending on the progress and outcome of the consultation, as well as other matters relating to the Combined Authority’s business. 

    Once the consultation closes, the Act allows the Combined Authority to make changes to the Proposed Franchising Scheme. This could mean that modifications that reflect more recent changes in West Yorkshire’s buses (including the bus network) or changes which reflect consultation responses are made to the Proposed Franchising Scheme. 

    Accessibility and Contact information

    If you have any questions, need to respond in a different way, require consultation materials in a different format, or would like to make a complaint, you can get in touch with us via: 

    • Our Questions & Answers (Q&A) tool on this page: Submit your question and we will get back to you (responses for questions relating to the consultation will be provided within 10 working days) 
    • Email: bus.reform@westyorks-ca.gov.uk 
    • Telephone: 0113 245 7676 (MetroLine) charged at the standard operators rate 

    Where can I read a paper copy of the Consultation Document?

    Copies of the consultation document can be viewed in the following locations
    across West Yorkshire:
    • Halifax Bus Station Travel Centre
    • Bradford Bus Station Travel Centre
    • Castleford Bus Station Travel Centre
    • Huddersfield Bus Station Travel Centre
    • Leeds Bus Station Travel Centre
    • Pontefract Bus Station Travel Centre

    Note: More locations and venues may be added to this list. For an up–to–date list of all locations where hard copies are available, please visit: www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/busreform

    Drop In Events

    We hosted the following drop in Events: 

    • Monday 23 October; 10am- 1pm; Thornton Lodge Action Group
      • Brook Street, Thornton Lodge, Huddersfield, HD1 3JW
    • Tuesday 24 October; 1pm- 4pm; Yorkshire Children's Centre
      • Yorkshire Children's Centre, Jo Cox House, Batley, WF17 5DR
    • Wednesday 25 October; 10am- 1pm; Karmand Community Centre
      • Barkerend Road, Bradford, BD3 9EP
    • Thursday 26 October; 12pm- 3pm; Ground Floor Project
      • Salem Community Centre, Central St, Hebden Bridge, HX7 6HB
    • Saturday 28 October; 11am- 2pm; Halifax Borough Market
      • 19 Albion St, Halifax, HX1 1DU
    • Monday 30 October; 10am- 1pm; St Swithuns Community Centre
      • Arncliffe Road, Wakefield, WF1 4RR
    • Tuesday 31 October; 10am- 1pm; The Reginald Centre
      • 263 Chapeltown Road, Leeds, LS7 3EX
    • Wednesday 1 November; 10am- 1pm; St Mary's Community Centre
      • The Circle, Chequerfield, Pontefract, WF8 2AY
    • Thursday 2 November; 10am- 1pm; Hamara Healthy Living Centre
      • Tempest Road, Leeds, LS11 8RD
    • Monday 6 November; 9am- 12pm; West End Centre
      • St Oswald's Church, Christopher Street, Little Horton, Bradford, BD5 9DH
    • Tuesday 7 November; 12pm-3pm; Keighley Bus Station
      • Bow Street, Keighley, BD21 3PB

    Changes to Documents

    I would like to inform you that, following queries raised by consultees, we have made some corrections to the list of services in the draft Proposed Franchising Scheme published with the consultation report.  A revised draft with these corrections has therefore been published with the Bus Reform consultation materials to ensure that the lists of services are consistent with paragraph 3.4 of the consultation document. These corrections are limited to the lists of services provided in Annexes 1 and 2 of the document.