About Mass Transit

    What is mass transit?

    Mass Transit is a large-scale public transport system in a metropolitan area. Typically, Mass Transit would use one or more modern high-capacity bus, tram or tram-train type vehicle. 

    The West Yorkshire Mass Transit 2040 Vision sets out the places that we propose to connect by Mass Transit and identifies the potential technologies which are most likely to be appropriate for West Yorkshire.

    How much will it cost?

    Mass Transit is likely to be a considerable investment but will deliver substantial benefits to West Yorkshire.  An initial £200 million has been allocated by Government towards the cost of developing our Mass Transit plans between now and 2027. This will cover design, consultation, environmental appraisal and some initial enabling works.

    Mass Transit will cost significantly more to deliver than we currently have available. We have yet to agree with government a future funding strategy for mass transit, although the Integrated Rail Plan published in November 2021 says “We intend for some parts (of mass transit) to be in service by the second half of this decade. The cost for the initial network, over ten years, is expected to exceed £2bn.”

    We’re in a cost-of-living crisis. Aren’t there better things you could do with the money?

    Any funding we receive will be ring-fenced for infrastructure. We have successfully bid for other funding streams to support our ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan, part of which will see single bus fares cut to a maximum of £2 for adults, and the multi-operator ticket cut by almost 20% to £4.50. These are immediate interventions to support people now; Mass Transit will deliver cost-effective travel opportunities in the years to come. Mas Transit is essential for the future inclusive economic growth of the region, connecting people to opportunities, jobs, leisure and skills. 

    What kind of technology will it use?

    In 2019, 120 organisations responded to our world-wide call for industry expertise on how a mass transit system might be developed and delivered. The feedback on this can be seen here: www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/improving-transport/urban-transit/.  

    Building on the advice we received, in the Mass Transit Vision (page 26-27) we identify the blend of technologies which are most likely to meet the needs of our region. These are:

    • Bus Rapid Transit 
    • Light Rail (Tram) 
    • Tram-Train
    • Ultra-Light Rail

    Our proposals are for a blend of these technologies delivered for the nine areas where we’ve suggested the system could operate.

    Why is the Vision set out for 2040?

    The Vision aims to connect people across our region by our target date of 2040. The Vision outlines our long-term aspiration for the future, and how we see the role of mass transit in the mix of public transport options for the region.  However, we envisage the first phase of the mass transit network to be in service towards the latter part of this decade.

Development of Mass Transit

    When will it be built and when will we be able to travel on it?

    Our ability to truly accelerate the delivery out these ambitious proposals is subject to long term certainty over funding and the strength of the business case. The Mass Transit Vision sets out our ambitious plans and proposes that construction of a first phase of starting by 2027-28, and in operation in 2030-31.

    Where will the money come from?

    The vast majority of funding will come from Central Government. However, it may be expected that there will be a contribution to the scheme from local sources. We are still in the early stages of this work, and all partners are committed to understanding how the scheme could be funded locally.

    How did you decide where should be on the network?

    We have carried out a series of studies looking at where people live, work and access services now, how that will change in the coming years and how we can meet the demand created by housing and jobs growth as well as improving connections for those in the most deprived areas. Mass transit will be part of the solution, but our plans also include proposals on rail, bus, cycling and walking to make sure all our communities are connected which are detailed in the West Yorkshire Connectivity Strategy.

    We have identified nine corridors that could be served by Mass Transit and further work will take place to look at the precise route a mass transit system might follow in those areas and the most effective way to deliver the system.

Mass transit routes

    Will it only benefit Leeds?

    No. For example, the planned first Phase intends to serve Dewsbury and Bradford as well as Leeds, The system will form the core of the West Yorkshire Connectivity Strategy, connecting communities across the region. More information on this can be found here: https://www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/growing-the-economy/strategic-economic-framework/policies-and-strategies/connectivity/.

    The proposed Mass Transit network will benefit the whole of West Yorkshire, not just Leeds. That said Leeds is the largest city in West Yorkshire, and it has the largest population, and a number of the potential corridors link to the city centre. Leeds Station is still one of the busiest outside London. It is the largest city in Europe without a mass transit system and delivering one would provide a boost to the economy and to the productive potential of the entire region. 

    Mass Transit isn’t just about getting people around Leeds more efficiently and effectively though, but bringing people into the city, and helping people who live in Leeds to access job opportunities in other parts of West Yorkshire too. Many of the people who work or study in Leeds live outside it.

    But Leeds isn’t our only focus. We need strong transport links to move people and goods around, and to get people to work, events or just to see family and friends. We also need good links in the rest of West Yorkshire, from Bradford to Dewsbury or Huddersfield to Wakefield.

    My town/workplace/etc. isn’t served by Mass Transit – is it not important?

    Whether you travel for work and want to discover brilliant new opportunities, or simply seek to enjoy more of our beautiful region, or meet up with the ones you love, we want our transport system to make it happen. Mass Transit will be just one part of that system and our Connectivity Infrastructure Plan sets out how walking, cycling, bus, rail and mass transit will be integrated to connect all our communities.

    The West Yorkshire Connectivity Strategy sets out how we intend to connect all communities across the region. Mass Transit will be the core of this network, but it can’t serve everywhere. Bus, cycling and walking will still be important modes for people making short trips, or as part of a longer multi-modal trip connecting to mass transit and rail for longer trips across the region.

    Which roads will mass transit travel on?

    The Outline Business Case for Mass Transit will consider options for the detailed route options; these will include roads, disused railways and new routes. These options will be consulted upon as a next stage in the work and will be shaped by the feedback through this engagement.

    Which routes will be prioritised?

    Delivery of the whole network will take time and will be phased. As the most populous and travelled area in West Yorkshire, routes into Leeds city centre will be at the heart of the system.

    We are planning for construction to start in the mid-2020s. The timing, shape and form of the Mass Transit system will be subject to engineering feasibility, environmental assessment, its business case and funding availability. Our priorities are for a first phase network which:

    • is part of the overall Connectivity Infrastructure Plan;
    • has a strategic rationale and can operate as a standalone system;
    • offers value for money and is financially sustainable and be affordable;
    • allows for network expansion;
    • reflects feedback from stakeholder and public engagement.

    What about places not on the proposed mass transit network?

    Mass Transit will be just one part of our integrated transport network. Our Connectivity Infrastructure Plan sets out how walking, cycling, bus, rail and mass transit will be integrated to connect all our communities.

Wider context of Mass Transit

    Isn’t this a repeat of Leeds Supertram and NGT?

    No. It is important that we learn the lessons of the past, but also focus on the needs of the region moving forwards. The Connectivity Plan and Mass Transit vision looking at the future transport needs of West Yorkshire, where jobs and housing growth will be and the communities that most need better connections. We have also looked at technological developments so we can maximise the positive benefits when we choose the appropriate solution(s) for West Yorkshire.

    Can the region wait until 2040 for Mass Transit when work on Supertram was supposed to start 20 years ago? Why is it taking so long?

    We are working towards construction beginning in the late-2020s but projects of this size and scale do take time to develop. We have invested and continue to invest in better transport including park and rides, new rail stations, improved bus stations and interchanges and an extensive cycling and walking network and our Connectivity Infrastructure Plan shows the further investment we will be making over the next five years.

    Why don’t you invest in bus instead?

    The Connectivity Infrastructure Plan sets out how walking, cycling, bus, rail and mass transit will be integrated to connect all our communities. We also show how we can connect communities in different ways. Bus will be the right option in many cases, but we have also identified that mass transit will be needed in some places to ensure we have the capacity needed to meet demand. That is why we submitted a Bus Service Improvement Plan to government, of which they agreed to fund £70 million.

    The document assumes ‘bus services will be revamped’, how will you achieve that?

    The Combined Authority is considering the future of bus services in the region. We have already agreed an Enhanced Bus Partnership with operators to support:

    • delivery of core bus networks that have clear standards of information provision, frequency of service and consistency of standards on board;
    • deals on fares to help encourage more bus travel;
    • guarantees of consistent standards across different operators;
    • better integration of customer travel information;
    • devolution of bus funding to the Combined Authority to support services more efficiently.

    We are in a strong partnership with the bus operators, which we will look to further strengthen through an Enhanced Partnership to deliver the best bus services we can as part of an integrated transport network bringing together mass transit, bus, rail, walking and cycling.

    Are the proposals for Mass Transit dependent on bus franchising?

    We continue to review the case for franchising and will press the Government to give local areas the freedom and funding to pursue the options we believe are appropriate to meet local needs, including public ownership.

    However, our proposals for Mass Transit are not dependent on bus franchising.

    How does mass transit fit in with Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2?

    The government’s Integrated Rail Plan brought some certainty to plans to upgrade the trans-Pennine route but not to plans to improve Leeds Station and bring high-speed rail services into the city. We are working with government on plans to improve Leeds Station and to bring to bring high-speed rail services into Leeds, but our mass transit plans are not dependent upon this– rather, they are aimed at moving people around the region effectively and quickly.

    What do the Integrated Rail Plan and other rail projects mean for Mass Transit?

    The Integrated Rail Plan left several issues unresolved. How to get high speed trains into Leeds from the Midlands is subject to further investigation. We know that in order to do this without impacting other services, a new station will be needed, and will continue to make the case for this and the additional capacity a new line would bring. However, we’re still (October 2022) waiting for government to announce the start of the review.

    The Transpennine Route Upgrade will double the track between Huddersfield and Dewsbury and create an electric railway between York, Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester, allowing for faster and more frequent services. But this is just one corridor – Mass Transit will cover the whole of West Yorkshire. Mass Transit intends to seamlessly connect with rail services and planned enhancements and compliment them.

    How does mass transit fit with current bus and rail services?

    In 2021 we published the Connectivity Infrastructure Plan which sets out our vision for an integrated transport system to be delivered though sustained long-term transport investment over the next 20 years, so that we can make the most of national transport investment in rail and road and put walking, cycling and green public transport infrastructure at the top of our investment priorities.

    We recognise that all modes of transport have their part to play. Mass transit will sit alongside other modes so that people have access to the most appropriate for their journeys.

    What will the Integrated System look like?

    We are still at an early stage. We asked people about our Mass Transit Vision in 2021, which looked at the different modes available, from Bus Rapid Transit through to tram-train.

    The mode we choose will be the right one for the area in which it’s used – it will tie in with existing (bus) services, making it seamless for the passenger to change from Mass Transit to bus, cycle or foot for the last stage of their journey.

    Will it definitely happen (considering past experienced of trolleybus, Supertram, HS2 etc)?

    We have been allocated £200m of funding for the next five years, we have appointed an interim Director for the project, we’re looking at how to build the team to deliver the first lines. We want it to happen, but the full scheme will require further funding commitment from government that covers at least two parliaments. There’s work to do to continue to make the case and prove the benefits to the city and the whole of West Yorkshire.

    What deadlines should we expect?

    There are legal and consultation steps we need to pass through. We’ll be consulting with people along the proposed routes, narrowing down the options with them until we get something that we can submit as part of the Transport and Works Act Order, which is the bit that allows us to start construction.

    That could take a couple of years, which is why we have looked at other ways, “quick wins”, to improve bus services. We have been awarded funding for our Bus Service Improvement Plan, £70 million to reduce fares, introduce new ticket types and new routes.

    What needs to happen with public transport in the meantime to make sure they are up to scratch?

    We entered an Enhanced Partnership with local bus operators and the five West Yorkshire districts in April. An Enhanced Partnership is a way to strengthen our relationship with bus operators and help them to create a better bus service which caters to the needs of our local communities

    This allows us to invest in bus priority schemes or reduce fares much more quickly.

    We are also looking at how we tell people about our bus networks, so that people have the right information in order to plan their journeys.

About the consultation

    What is involved in this statutory consultation?

    We are now running this statutory consultation to gain formal support for the Mass Transit Vision 2040 ahead of it being formally adopted by the Combined Authority. This involves gathering feedback and endorsement from statutory consultees and is also open to feedback from key stakeholders and members of the public.

    How can members of the public have their say on the proposals?

    The consultation period will take place from 24 Oct 2022 to 16 January 2023. Members of the public can have their say via www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/masstransitvision or email yourvoice@westyorks-ca.gov.uk. We are keen to hear from residents, businesses, and anyone travelling in West Yorkshire.

    Who can take part? Can I tell other people to take part?

    We welcome opinions and feedback from all members of the public. Please share the link www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/masstransitvision with anyone you think would be interested in taking part. If you intend to submit a joint response on behalf of a group/organisation, please share the link with your colleagues/members so they can provide an individual response, should they wish to do so.

    How will you ensure that the consultation is accessible?

    Alternative formats of the engagement materials will be available upon request, such as braille or large print. Anyone who cannot access the survey online and needs to request an alternative format should contact MetroLine on 0113 245 7676.

    Interested members of the public can also ask questions on using the Q&A tool on Your Voice page: www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/masstransit.

    How will residents and businesses be kept informed of the progress of the scheme?

    You can register to follow the project and have your say in any future consultations at www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/masstransitvision Updates on project progress will also be provided via the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and via press articles. We will publish a report on the consultation response on this website.