BUSES in West Yorkshire will be brought under local control - in what has been described as a "landmark" move.

The decision was made at a meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) at a meeting in Leeds today.

WYCA said the announcement to bring buses under local control - through a process known as franchising - was the "biggest shake up to public transport in the region for decades". 

Routes, frequencies, fares and overall standards for buses in the region will be set by WYCA – not private operators, which will instead be contracted to run services on the authority's behalf. 

The decision - which was not unanimous and saw opposition from councillors including Rebecca Poulsen, leader of the Conservative group on Bradford Council - follows a three-month consultation which revealed nearly three-quarters of respondents supported franchising. 

WYCA said franchising will be introduced in phases - with the first franchised buses up and running in parts of Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield from March 2027. 

Ilkley Gazette: West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy BrabinWest Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin (Image: Newsquest)

Ms Brabin said: "I'm delighted to announce that we are taking back control of our buses in West Yorkshire, empowering the public to hold me to account for better services.

"For too long, buses have been run in the interests of private companies, not passengers.

"Franchising will help us build a better-connected bus network that works for all, not just company shareholders.    

"But we know that change will not happen overnight - the hard work we've been doing to improve the bus network continues while we work at pace to bring this new way of running the buses to our 2.4 million residents."

A WYCA spokesperson added: "Buses are the most widely used form of public transport in West Yorkshire and provide a crucial public service, connecting communities and enabling people to get to work, school and meet family and friends.

"But the current deregulated system has seen a decline in patronage over many years and the increasing use of public funding used to support services.  

"Despite the action the combined authority has taken through its Bus Service Improvement Plan, bus services in the region remain too infrequent and unreliable to meet passengers' needs, with West Yorkshire ranking bottom for customer satisfaction, according to a survey released by Transport Focus yesterday.

"A franchised model will allow the Mayor and combined authority to better deliver on ambitions for a greener, joined-up and easier to use transport network as part of a better-connected West Yorkshire."

A spokesperson for Arriva Yorkshire said: "We welcome confirmation of Mayor Brabin's intention to move towards a franchising model for local bus services in West Yorkshire.

"We know from our experience in London and across Mainland Europe that franchised networks can deliver the successful and high performing services that local communities deserve. 

"We look forward to working closely with the Mayor and her team to help achieve their ambitions for improved bus services for passengers in West Yorkshire."