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Save our buses

Fair Fares Now

Roads to Nowhere

West and North Yorkshire Campaign for Better Transport

Area: North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire
Interests: Bus, Rail, Traffic
Contact: Ray Wilkes
Send them a message
Tel: 01274 403540

News for July 2018

We welcome people sharing our concerns and interests.

To contact us: Call Ray Wilkes on 01274 403540 or send us an online message.

You can also turn up at one of our free meetings advertised below.

Catch the Bus Week – 2-8 July 2018
To mark this week, we have an event in Keighley, thanks to Graham Mitchell for working with Transdev to arrange this. The Keighley Event is "Councillors pledge to Jet round their Wards" to be launched by the Keighley MP, John Grogan at 13:00 hrs in Keighley Bus Station on Sunday 1st July. The invitation has gone to all Keighley Town Councillors plus the Bradford District Councillors who represent Keighley Wards. John Grogan is programmed to launch the event for a photo opportunity. ‘Jet' is the brand name for the Keighley Local Bus Network.

Speaker Meetings:
Our next speaker meeting dates are:

  • 9 October 2018
  • 14 November 2018
  • 12 February 2019 
  • 13 March 2019
  • 9 April 2019, which will be our Annual General Meeting. Details in the October newsletter.

Rail Group Meetings:
'Veritas' 43-47 Great George St, Leeds, LS1 3BB. Starting at 19:30 on the following Mondays in 2018:

  • 30 July
  • 10 September
  • 22 October
  • 3 December

Please check venue before attending, as we are looking for an alternative free venue in the centre of Leeds. Suggestions welcome. 

Bus Group Meetings:
'Caffe Nero's', 29a Bond Street Leeds LS1 5HD. Next to Tesco. Starting at 17:30 on the following Tuesdays:

  • 17 July 2018
  • 18 September 2018

If you want to join us and don't know what we look like, call Mark on 07941 642349.

Summer Walk & Meal
Join us for our canal walk from Leeds to the Kirkstall Bridge Inn. Meet on 21st August, at 17:30 outside Leeds station Starbucks. Ray Wilkes is the contact.

Railfuture is a different group campaigning to improve our railways. The next Yorkshire Branch meeting is at The Swadford Centre, 32 Swadford Street, Skipton BD23 1RD, on Saturday, 21 July 2018 from 13:00–16:00. Call Mark for details on 07941 642349.

Annual General Meeting

At our Annual General Meeting the following people were elected onto the Executive Committee: 
Chair: Colin Speakman, Rail Chair: Tony Plumbe, Bus Chair: Mark Parry, Secretary: Vacant, Treasurer: Jackie Wilkes.

Rail Franchising in Britain – The Way Ahead

Our member, Chris Nash, the Research Professor at the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds University, addressed our Annual General Meeting this year on rail franchising.

The UK is the only country to franchise nearly all of our rail services. There has been an ongoing debate about how long a franchise should last. Chris said this depends on the responsibilities the franchise is given. If the franchise is to order new trains and have other roles, such as marketing, then at least 20 years is needed, if not then 7 years will be sufficient. 

If Transport for the North was to lead on planning, marketing and procurement, then all northern franchises could be limited to 7 years. But whatever the length of these franchises, the years they get is an improvement on the annual Treasury reviews of the Nationalised years of British Rail. He said that an alliance between the franchised operators and Network Rail was crucial.

Since the start of franchising, passenger numbers have doubled. Chris advised the Government on what caused this increase. The factors behind this include general economic growth, the increase of car ownership and motorway building slowing during the 1990's, increased road journey times and higher fuel costs as well as other factors including the impact of privatisation. The provision of digital data to help people plan their journey has also helped public transport.

The costs of running the railway have increased, but these increases are mainly for the infrastructure. The increased costs of the franchises are also affected by issues outside their control, for example, a limited supply of skilled train drivers leading to higher wages. It was noted that franchising in other countries has cut costs and that the UK franchising system does not make best use of competition to help bring down prices. The Competition and Markets Authority has suggested more open access is allowed for other operators to compete. Italy has two operators on its high-speed lines which has led to reduced fares. The UK average fare paid is higher than elsewhere.

Rail Group Attempts to Preserve Rail Access to Wetherby

Four regulars from the Rail Group met with council officers on 27 April to discuss the impact of the East Leeds Orbital Road on the old rail line to Wetherby. We suggested the road was lowered by 3 metres to facilitate a future rail reinstatement.

We used an example of where the borders railway was re-instated at great cost because the track bed had not been protected. The Council Officers pointed out that, as serious consideration of the re-instatement of the Wetherby line had not appeared in any plans, they could not justify the cost of lowering the road. They also said they did not consider it a problem if light rail was installed. No agreement was reached between us. We also raised our concerns about new road building and its impact on increasing levels of traffic generally. The Council feels obliged to accommodate road traffic rather than manage the demand for road space.

Bus Group Meets with West Yorkshire Combined Authority

On 12 June four members met with Dave Pearson and Neale Wallace at the Combined Authority. We were especially concerned about the new timetables being introduced as they are simply inaccurate. They claim the volume of bus stop displays is too large for them to validate timetables before they are displayed and invited us to point out errors.

A change to previous policy is their willingness to use displays designed by operators in future. The real time information screens replacement is now to start in July with the small screens being replaced and the larger ones being refurbished. Another 1,000 new screens will be provided including some new designs and pointing towards motorists to advertise bus services. First bus is to introduce automatic login ticket machines which will increase the number of services showing real rather than scheduled time. On clean air, they confirmed that older pre-euro 6 buses will be moved outside the Leeds clean air zone to other towns in the County. They are considering where electric buses can be used including the proposed Stourton Park and Ride. All Access buses have been converted to euro 6 standards and contracted services will now need to be at least euro 5 levels, raised from the current euro 3. To raise contracts to euro 6 would cost much more, reducing the subsidised services they can fund. They accept that these improvements are more challenging for small bus companies. The number of school buses needed is reduced because of local authority cuts and the fleet will be scrapped in two years. Meanwhile they have been converted to euro 6 standards. In future school buses will be contracted from bus operators' fleets.