First West Yorkshire launches New Routemaster consultation

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FirstGroup CEO Tim O’Toole with Rachel Reeves MP with one of the New Routemaster prototypes repainted for the launch
FirstGroup CEO Tim O’Toole with Rachel Reeves MP with one of the New Routemaster prototypes repainted for the launch

First West Yorkshire has launched a consultation on its proposal for a ‘New Bus for West Yorkshire’ which could see New Routemasters appear on the streets of cities in the area

The three part proposal includes introducing a new bus based on the London New Routemaster, introducing smartcard ticketing similar to the Oyster card used in London and tackling congestion hot spots where changes to road layouts and traffic signals could reduce delays.

An exhibition outlining the package along with a New Routemaster bus was on show to local politicians, council officers, business representatives and community and transport groups from Wednesday, August 6 until Friday, August 8. It is expected to tour around the county to get feedback from communities across West Yorkshire.

First believes the combination of multi entry and exit points on the new bus and touch card ticketing would greatly speed up boarding and alighting, cutting journey times.

Paul Turner, First’s Head of Commercial, explained: “We want to test the reaction of people across West Yorkshire to the package of measures we are proposing which we believe could radically transform public transport in West Yorkshire.

“Over the coming weeks we will be consulting with politicians, businesses and the public to gain their views.

“The other factors that will determine whether we go ahead with this significant investment are the completion of a bus partnership agreement with Metro and the new West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Negotiations have been going on between all the bus operators and Metro for a couple of years now and we need the agreement to provide the stability necessary to make major investment decisions.

“In other areas, similar partnership agreements have led to significant fare reductions and increases in passenger numbers.”

The consultation on the New Bus for West Yorkshire will be taking place at the same time as the public inquiry into the trolleybus scheme.

Paul Turner added: “Unlike the trolleybus, the New Bus proposal would bring significant benefits to a much larger number of customers throughout West Yorkshire and not just one route in Leeds. It could start to be introduced within the next 18 months and there is no financial risk to the tax-payer.”