West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has hired Turner & Townsend Project Management and engineering consultancy firms Jacobs and Mott MacDonald to work on the business case.
The proposal is due to be submitted to the Department of Transport before the end of the year, with WYCA planning to spend almost £200m on “development and initial delivery” over the next five years.
However, it has not finalised the route for the scheme, which is expected to cost more than £2bn and be fully operational in 2040.
It is also yet to decide whether tram-trains or prioritised routes of electric buses will be used.
The authority is currently exploring plans for a network, consisting of nine lines, that links towns and cities across West Yorkshire, including Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield.
The plan added: "We will start work on the new West Yorkshire Mass Transit System and support West Yorkshire Combined Authority over the long term to ensure that this time, it gets done.
"That commitment begins now with more than £200m of immediate funding to plan the Mass Transit System and start building it."
WYCA has said the aim is to make the county's transport system easier to use and understand.
The organisation is also looking to employ a director to run the project and additional staff to join its “small in-house programme team”.
In a report, it added: "At this point, decisions around the final mode, for example, bus rapid transit, light rail and very light rail, and the precise route have yet to be made.
"These factors will significantly impact on the costings for the scheme. Information around costing will be developed as part of future business case stages and will be made available for future public engagements."
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