Calderdale Council will deliberate on its response to a significant consultation concerning the management of buses in West Yorkshire during its Cabinet meeting on Monday, 11 December.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is seeking input from individuals and organizations throughout the region regarding the proposed restructuring of bus services. The consultation period extends until 7 January 2024, and Calderdale Council is among the entities set to express its formal opinions.

Pending the consultation outcome and a final decision by Mayor Tracy Brabin, the proposed bus reform may lead to the public takeover of bus services in West Yorkshire. Currently, private bus operators predominantly determine bus routes, schedules, and fares, resulting in reported issues such as varying levels of customer satisfaction, route and ticketing confusion across providers, and a decline in passenger numbers.

Some bus services operate commercially, while others receive subsidies, leading to identified problems like sudden service losses, poor performance, and limited integration with other modes of transportation, such as trains, thus encouraging car dependency and discouraging the use of more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Bus franchising is presented as a potential solution to address these challenges, providing the Combined Authority with control over routes, frequency, fares, and overall standards of the region’s buses. Bus operators would be contracted by the Combined Authority to operate on its behalf.

Bus operators propose an alternative called ‘Enhanced Partnership Plus,’ which allows private operators to continue running buses, albeit with changes to the management of the bus network. All proposed options will be discussed during the upcoming Cabinet meeting.

Cllr Jane Scullion, Leader of Calderdale Council, said; “Good bus travel, that’s inclusive and accessible, is really important to our communities, especially those in rural or more deprived areas. It gives people a lower-carbon way to get to places that matter to them for their work and leisure. This helps our towns and places to thrive, reduces inequalities by improving access to jobs and businesses, and contributes to local climate action.

“We back the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s proposal to create a better-connected region by bringing buses back under public control, simplifying fares, providing greater certainty over services and customer information, and having greener buses.”

Interested parties can contribute to the Combined Authority’s bus reform consultation online, by post, or at drop-in sessions held across West Yorkshire. The consultation closes on 7 January 2024. Calderdale hosted a session on 27 November at Halifax Town Hall as part of the Calderdale Transport Forum. The Council’s formal response to the consultation will be considered by Cabinet Members during their meeting on 11 December, taking place at Halifax Town Hall and viewable online at https://calderdale.public-i.tv/core/portal/home.