By Chris Young LDRS

Improved bus networks in Bradford could increase the number of bus journeys in the District by five million a year – a new study has claimed.
Increasing the number of buses in Bradford by 35 per cent would lead to the number of annual journeys rising from 32m to 37m by 2033 – although the study acknowledges this would be “challenging.”

The West Yorkshire Strategic Bus Network Review was completed shortly before the Covid pandemic and looks at how and where the network needs to grow in the coming years.

The review will be discussed by members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee on Friday, and members will be told that while Covid will impact short term plans for the network, many of the review’s findings will still apply once the pandemic eases.

The report says that in Bradford 72 per cent of addresses are within 400m of a bus stop served by four buses or more from 7-9.30am.
Increasing the frequency of buses near the remaining 28 per cent of homes could lead to “significant social benefits” – members will be told.

The areas of the District with the poorest connectivity to regular bus routes include Baildon, Eldwick, Wrose, Clayton, Denholme, Haworth and Oxenhope, North Silsden, Addingham and Burley in Wharfedale.
The report suggests a number of improvements that should be made to the local network.

By 2021 there should be an increased frequency of bus services across the existing network, with extra services to Eldwick/Micklethwaite, Bradford Royal Infirmary, and a new service linking Dudley Hill and Cleckheaton.

By 2024 there should be more network improvements, including bus priority lanes across the District, and between Bradford and Leeds, Calderdale and Kirklees. A new route should link Low Moor to Thornbury via Holme Wood.

By 2033 most areas should have a frequent bus service, and Bradford should be linked to Leeds by a proposed mass transit scheme, which has been in the pipeline for several years.

Other proposals for the network between now and 2033 include
– A new orbital service between Laisterdyke, the M606 and Low Moor
– An express service from Thornton/Queensbury to Bradford city centre
– A new express service from Keighley to Bradford via Bingley and Shipley
– Better links between Silsden and Steeton and Silsden Rail Station
– More frequent services between Keighley, Ilkley and Otley
– Increased frequency of service between Baildon and Bradford
– More services between Apperley Bridge and Leeds Bradford Airport
– Links to planned new housing and employment sites

The report says: “In 2018 it is estimated that there are over 32m annual trips made by bus. By improving frequencies, providing new links to growth areas and capital investment in bus priority then annual trips could increase to over 37m by 2033 -there would need to be an increase of 35 per cent more buses.
“The number of new buses needed in 2033 to support 5m more trips means the network is challenging, but would bring significant social benefits whilst delivering a self-sufficient bus network -additional gains could be made by improving the ‘conditions for success’ by integrating wider measures such car parking policy.”
The review includes all five local authority areas of West Yorkshire, and shows that by improving frequencies, linking to areas of economic growth and investing in vehicles and bus priority measures, could lead to an additional 24 million bus journeys in the region by 2033.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “The bus service is relied upon by people across West Yorkshire to connect them with work, education and leisure and we have worked with operators to ensure buses have been available through the pandemic. However, the economic pressures created by the pandemic and the urgent need to put the service on a sustainable footing for the long-term means further action is needed.

“We will continue to consider 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. An enhanced bus partnership represents an opportunity to deliver for passengers as that wider work continues.

“Our review of the region’s core bus services confirms there is huge potential to encourage significant growth in passenger numbers with the right investment in vehicles, priority measures, frequencies and connecting to areas of economic growth. The proposed enhanced bus partnership would be an important step in delivering that vision.”
The committee will meet online at 11am on Friday.