Coun Jane Scullion, Leader Calderdale Council: Fighting for better buses in our area
Coun Jane Scullion, Leader Calderdale Council writes: You will remember that one of the problems with the old bus station, apart from being cold and windy in winter, was that passengers had to cross to different stops, mixing bus and pedestrians, risking collisions. The new arrangements keep travellers much safer. It is also very accessible, with an amazing Changing Places toilet, separate baby changing, accessible toilets and a low counter in the Travel Centre.
I really liked that each bus bay has level boarding, braille lettering and a big red button to press which gives you an audio description of the buses from that point. Apparently, the other West Yorkshire bus stations already have this feature, and it was about time we got decent facilities for folk with disabilities in our neck of the woods. And look out for the bike racks and the real time railway signage as well.
The next stage of the works is to complete the landscaping of the area beside Northgate House which should be done in the next few weeks. I’m also looking forward to the retail unit for newspapers and snacks re-opening in the next couple of months after the fit out. There has been a lot of interest in taking on the café lease next door to the shop and it is expected to open in the new year.
Work on the other stands, layover for the buses and facilities for the drivers (and a big thank to our drivers for their work during the disruption!) will follow, as will the finalisation of the longer stands with more room for luggage for the National Express buses.
And in other bus news we are really excited to report that at long last the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and our Mayor, Tracy Brabin, are about to start the big consultation on bringing our bus services back under public control. This will be done through a new type of arrangement called ‘franchising.’
Currently we are already in an ‘enhanced partnership’ with the bus companies, but I think you will agree with me that this hasn’t worked for areas like Calderdale, with cuts to services as well as punctuality and reliability problems. And there has been a long-term decline in the number of people using the buses as they lost confidence in the network getting them safely to and from work.
Think about care workers on early shifts or hospitality workers finishing late. Think about our hilltop and outlying communities when there is only one bus an hour that might be cancelled, especially in the winter. No surprise then that 54 per cent of people in West Yorkshire recently said they were not satisfied with their local bus service.
The franchising plans would mean that there would be greener buses, streamlined customer service, simpler fares, and integrated ticketing, rather than the nonsense of not being able to use buses from different companies on your ticket.
It would bring us closer to the London travel experience of hopping off and on buses. Transport spending in London is double what we have in the North of England.
We deserve better and I’m determined to fight for better buses here.