The final Combined Authority assembly of West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin’s tenure is poised to shape the region’s future with a spectrum of pivotal decisions and substantial investments aimed at fostering inclusivity and progress.

Central to today’s agenda is the eagerly anticipated verdict on the fate of the region’s bus services. The outcome could herald a deeper collaboration between the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and private bus operators or signify a return to public oversight encompassing routes, fares, frequencies, and service standards through franchising.

This pivotal moment in bus reform marks the culmination of a meticulous three-year process initiated by Mayor Brabin post her 2021 election triumph. This process aimed to scrutinise the viability of altering the governance of buses across key locales including Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax, and Wakefield.

The decision, slated for later this morning at the concluding Combined Authority session of her mayoral stint, adheres to a statutory framework outlined by central government in 2017. This framework mandates a comprehensive assessment, public consultation, and the final verdict bestowed upon the elected regional Mayor.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said; “In 2021, I was elected on a plan to improve bus services, build affordable homes, create green jobs, support businesses and protect women and girls.

“Whilst we’ve been able to deliver on all of these pledges, the decisions being taken today will have a transformative impact on the economy and society of West Yorkshire for generations to come.

“I’d like to thank all of our partners and the people of West Yorkshire for the trust and confidence they’ve put in me to deliver for our region over the past three years.”

Following Mayor Brabin’s seminal decision concerning the reform of the region’s bus services, regional leaders are set to deliberate and likely endorse funding for several other noteworthy initiatives, including:

  1. Leeds-Bradford Tram Lines: A proposal integral to the broader vision of instituting a mass transit system for West Yorkshire. This ambitious venture seeks to address Leeds’ status as the largest city in Western Europe devoid of a light rail or metro-style network. Plans are afoot to commence groundwork by 2028, heralding a more interconnected region.
  2. West Yorkshire Healthtech and Digital Tech Investment Zone: An initial £80 million injection, in conjunction with central government, to foster innovation within businesses, universities, and hospitals. This initiative aims to generate thousands of employment opportunities and advance the development of groundbreaking technologies, benefiting NHS patients and global communities alike.
  3. Armley, Leeds Insulation Scheme: A £1.7 million initiative targeting the insulation of 100 Victorian terraces. This endeavor supplements prior investments aimed at greening approximately 3,000 rented council and social homes, alleviating financial burdens amidst a cost of living crisis, in line with Mayor Brabin’s eco-conscious housing agenda.
  4. Long-term Rail Strategy: Proposals for bolstering rail infrastructure with enhanced capacity, reliability, and frequency. Regional leaders are poised to lobby for increased government investment in public transport infrastructure, positioning West Yorkshire and the North on par with London and the Southeast. Furthermore, they seek assurances regarding the preservation of HS2 land surrounding Leeds station and the fulfilment of commitments towards a new rail station in Bradford.
  5. Support for Bradford City of Culture 2025: A financial boost exceeding £5 million to underpin the cultural extravaganza scheduled for 2025. This initiative aligns with Mayor Brabin’s promise of a “Creative New Deal” for West Yorkshire and is anticipated to stimulate employment, skills development, tourism, and the broader economy by spotlighting Bradford’s vibrant communities on the global stage.