The next step in transforming transport and travel in and around Leeds is set to begin with public consultation starting on plans for bus priority measures on key routes in the city.
Leeds City Council working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, partners and stakeholders including all transport operators in the city, has today given an update on the transport strategy for the city which has a new name – ‘Connecting Leeds’.
The vision set out for Connecting Leeds is to deliver a transformational stepchange in the transport network and connectivity in Leeds and the wider region, helping to support and bring people, places, jobs, learning and leisure closer together. This will be achieved through improvements to road, rail, bus, park and ride, cycling and walking services and infrastructure, reducing congestion and improving air quality and accessibility in Leeds along with utilising the latest technology innovations.
Enhanced bus travel is an essential element of Connecting Leeds, with the target set of doubling the current 250,000 bus trips made in the city per day within 10 years. To help achieve this, Leeds City Council is wanting to hear people’s views on plans to introduce new infrastructure including bus priority measures on three key routes in the city: Bradford to Leeds via Stanningley, Bramley and Armley; Alwoodley to Leeds via Moortown and Chapel Allerton; and Oakwood and Roundhay to Leeds via Harehills and St James’s Hospital.
Under the plans, bus priority measures which have proved successful in other areas of the city would be introduced, improving bus journey times and service reliability. Available space on the road network would be maximised to improve efficiency, with enhanced cycling and walking provision also central to the plans.
Additional new infrastructure would see bus stops improved, with new features including offering the latest real-time service and travel information. Connected to the Bradford to Leeds route, Leeds City Council is also seeking views on plans to improve Armley Gyratory to offer better traffic flows and reduce congestion.
To take part in these consultations, which include drop-in sessions taking place over the coming weeks, visit www.leeds.gov.uk/connectingleeds
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“We are very pleased to be updating the city today with where we are on delivering the changes we need to our transporting network. Lots of work is going on across the city and now we need to continue the transport conversation by talking in particular about enhanced bus services and what we need to do to make bus travel faster, more efficient, reliable and cleaner.
“Looking at all aspects of a road network, we want to maximise the limited space we have so it is as efficient as possible. Priority bus networks have proven to be highly effective, so we look forward to sharing the plans and hearing what people think.”
Councillor Keith Wakefield, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:
“Improving the region’s transport network is at the heart of our ambition to generate faster growth which benefits all our communities and the exciting proposals set out today will connect people from across Leeds and beyond to job opportunities, education and services.
“Working in partnership with Leeds we have already delivered a new railway station at Kirkstall Forge and the hugely successful Elland Road and Temple Green park and ride schemes and our £1billion West Yorkshire Transport Fund is delivering a pipeline of projects across the wider City Region.
“Understanding how people want to use the transport network is essential to the development of these proposals and we look forward to hearing their views.”
The proposals are supported by Leeds’ major bus operators, with First Leeds, Arriva Yorkshire and Transdev all backing the plans as part of their broader Bus 18 commitment to make bus travel in the region more reliable, easier to use, customer focused and better for the environment.
All three operators will have their latest vehicles on display at Victoria Gardens in the city centre today (11am-1pm)for the public to see and tour, showing off the latest features they offer. As part of First Leeds’ commitment to invest £71million to provide 284 new state-of-the-art buses for its Leeds fleet by the end of 2020, the first 34 of these are now ready to enter service in the city. From today they will be introduced over the coming weeks on service 1 Holt Park-Leeds-Beeston, and service 6 Holt Park-Leeds.
Martin Hirst, Commercial Director at First Leeds, said:
“As one of the major bus operators in the city we understand the vital role we play in helping to find solutions to reduce air pollution and so we’re proud to announce the arrival of the latest low emission vehicles into Leeds.
“Customers will notice a change in the colour of our new buses, which we have branded ‘LeedsCity’. Our aim with introducing a new livery for these vehicles is to help customers identify them, as they will all serve the high frequency Headingley bus services and are ultimately, the best vehicles that we have available, right now.”
The new buses are ultra-low emission Euro VI, and feature extra comfort seating, audio visual next stop passenger announcements, a new striking green livery, free wi-fi and USB charging. All First Leeds buses in Leeds now also offer contactless payment and ticketless options via smartphone for improved passenger flexibility and faster boarding times.
All three major bus operators are committed to ensuring their buses will meet the standards for the proposed Clean Air Zone in Leeds by 2020. First Leeds has announced that its Service 5 between Halton Moor and the City Centre loop will be the first of its routes to convert to electric operation in 2019. Bus operators have also pledged to invest in emerging technologies which achieve zero emissions in urban areas.
The new brand for the Leeds transport strategy – Connecting Leeds – reflects a new approach to all transport and travel planning and delivery in Leeds. It has a clear focus on offering a fully integrated transport network across and beyond the city, with services in Leeds connecting seamlessly between communities and also with regional, national and international networks including future plans for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Connecting Leeds features a new animation promoting its aims, which can be seen from later this week at www.leeds.gov.uk/connectingleeds, while it is also keen to engage with the public to continue the transport conversation in Leeds via twitter at @ConnectingLeeds and through Leeds City Council’s Facebook page.
The next stage of delivery will look to add to the successes already achieved across the transport network in Leeds in recent months, such as at Thornbury Barracks and Rodley, Harehills Road, St Peter’s Street/Leeds Bus Station and the impact of the park and ride services at Elland Road and Temple Green in taking cars out of the city centre.
Work continues on improving cycling and walking provision through City Connect, while Leeds City Council and partners played a key role in new Northern and TransPennine Express trains and services which will come into operation in Leeds from December with increased services at peak times beginning early next year.
Leeds City Region currently has the most ambitious programme for the development and opening of new stations in the country. Together with related infrastructure to support employment and business growth, plans are continuing to be developed for new stations at Thorpe Park, White Rose/Millshaw Business Park and a new parkway station on the Leeds to Harrogate line to serve Leeds Bradford Airport and also act as a park and ride in both directions.
Accessibility improvements will also be made at modernised transport hubs across the city, while public spaces in the city centre will be altered to become more people-focused and less car-dominated, as can be seen in the South Bank for plans for a new city park which were approved to progress this month.
Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority are continuing to examine options around mass-transit services for Leeds. Having seen the rapid technological advances being made in cities around the world, this now includes possibilities around automated and driverless vehicles. Leeds is open to all possibilities, and is keen to be at the forefront of testing such new technologies in the UK.
Councillor Blake added:
“The mass-transit question continues to be one of the hottest topics facing the city. In many ways the debate is now moving on in new directions. Look around the world at the amazing advances being made in automated vehicles. Leeds should rightly be at the forefront of bringing such technology to the UK so we are very keen to explore those possibilities along with the options for more traditional systems. Working together we are very keen to look to the future and how we can bring the latest cutting-edge transport technology to our city and region.”
The plans for Connecting Leeds have been supported and guided by the Leeds transport advisory panel. The panel is chaired by former Director of Strategy for Transport for the North Nigel Foster, and includes leading transport experts and senior figures from transport bodies and organisations, along with representatives from the worlds of business, education, planning, accessibility, equalities and campaign groups.
Chair of the Leeds transport advisory panel Nigel Foster said:
“The panel have been impressed by the progress Leeds is making with its plans for transport in the city, building on the £173.5million awarded by government for investment in public transport. Leeds is investing this money in partnership with investment by bus operators to deliver significant improvements to the bus network and transform associated facilities and public realm. The aim is an ambitious target of doubling bus patronage in 10 years. This investment is supported by a very successful and growing park and ride network, offering bus mass transit services into central Leeds.
“Along with the major upgrades to the rail network and services, these improvements will support the continued growth of Leeds and the Leeds City Region, creating jobs and opportunities for our people and businesses. Together with developments in innovative transport solutions, this is the start of a period of transformation for transport and mobility in Leeds that will provide solutions for travel in the 21st century."
The strategy forms part of the wider Leeds City Region economic plan which aims to deliver up to 35,000 new jobs and an additional £3.7billion of economic output by 2036.
Notes to editors:
Connecting Leeds is the city’s ongoing response to the findings of the biggest-ever transport conversation held with residents, businesses, stakeholders and visitors in the city which included more than 8,000 people taking part in a survey in 2016. The feedback was for deliverable improvements through better rail and bus services, a clear demand for additional park and ride services, congestion issues to be addressed along with improved accessibility to bring communities, businesses and jobs closer together to boost connectivity and the overall economy and productivity of Leeds.
Leeds City Council is also currently consulting on proposals to improve air quality in the city. For more information go to www.leeds.gov.uk/airqualityconsultation
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