West Yorkshire promotes COP26 with free travel Sunday

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Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin announced at a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) on Friday 22 October that in support of COP26, the local authority will offer free bus travel on Sunday 31 October across its five districts. She said that ‘Free Bus Sunday’ is intended to encourage people in the region to take the bus to be greener, and to help raise awareness of next month’s United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow.

Tackling the climate emergency and protecting the environment is one of the Mayor’s 10 pledges to West Yorkshire, and the Mayor will be attending COP26 to set out how this and other pledges are supporting urgent, affirmative action in her region to respond to the climate crisis, including encouraging people to swap private car travel for public transport.

‘Free Bus Sunday’ will be co-funded by the Combined Authority and West Yorkshire’s bus operators following a suggestion from the Mayor. There will be no charge on any bus journey within the districts of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. The plans have been developed by the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance with the participation of all bus operators, including major operators First, Arriva and Transdev.

West Yorkshire’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) was also discussed at the Combined Authority meeting. The BSIP includes proposals for cheaper and simpler fares, reduced journey times, improved punctuality, new routes, mobile digital tickets, improved safety plus better travel information. It also contains a new passenger charter with a journey satisfaction guarantee which means if passengers are not happy with the service, they receive their money back or their next journey for free. The plan will be submitted to the Government at the end of October, and confirmation of funding is expected in early 2022.

The Mayor said: “We’re encouraging everyone in West Yorkshire to get involved in ‘Free Bus Sunday’. The day will help raise awareness of the important issues being discussed at COP26; and the need for all of us to respond to the climate crisis by using public transport instead of private cars.

“I often use the bus to travel in West Yorkshire and I hope people who don’t normally do this will take a bus journey and be encouraged to use bus travel more often. Our long-term plans also mean the experience of bus travel in West Yorkshire will improve even more and ‘Free Bus Sunday is just the first step we’re taking to place the bus at the heart of the region’s transport.

“We want buses to be the first choice for travel in West Yorkshire – not because you don’t have a car, but because they’re more affordable, convenient to use, and better for the environment. I hope I can see as many people as possible on board on ‘Free Bus Sunday.’”