The Otley Courthouse was alive last night with residents keen to share their concerns with First Bus and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
The meeting was organised by MP Alex Sobel who, having received many constituent correspondences, wanted to give the community an opportunity to have their concerns heard by the company.
Over 50 people attended the meeting which was held on Thursday evening.
Concerns raised at the meeting included loading times, digital display issues, Menston Station connections, Wheelchair access, reliability and the frequency of Buses such as the X84.
First Bus outlined their statistics locally including an above 99% journey completion rate.
David Keady, Bus Network Manager for West Yorkshire Combined Authority was also in attendance to answer questions about the loss of service from Bradford. He described the significant financial strain that the combined authority are under as the Government are set to cut a further £3 million from their budget. This has led to the lack of investment in new routes and difficulty maintaining current subsidised routes.
Residents were keen to get across their desire for higher frequency of service and better communication about cancelled and delayed services.
Alex Sobel said “It was a pleasure to host this meeting and I am grateful to First, the Combined Authority, and the local community for attending. It is vital that the bus service is fit for purpose to encourage residents out of their cars. I was particularly concerned that congestion and journey times has led to several residents abandoning public transport in favour of private vehicles for their every day commute. It is in everyone’s best interest to get this right.
I was very interested to hear from commuters at Menston station about bus and train connectivity. I had held a meeting with the bus and train companies some months ago so that they could be in better communication regarding their timetabling. We need to constantly assess whether this is happening and look at ways for buses to connect to the station in good time, as close to the platform as possible. I also hope that the new Parkway station will give commuters another option for travel.
For Otley, getting public transport right would solve a whole host of problems such as congestion, air quality, reducing stress and anxiety as well as improving the economy and giving people more access to opportunities. As the population of the town is set to grow, I will be doing all that I can to maximise the public transport potential and get Otley moving again.”
Brandon Jones, external communications manager of First Bus said,
“It was a positive and constructive meeting and I thank Alex for giving us an opportunity to communicate with so many of our passengers. It is in our interest to get people using buses and we believe that with continued feedback, alongside some investment in infrastructure which gives greater bus priority, we can achieve a much higher bus usage than we have now. I’d like to ask that Otley residents do give us feedback about issues that they encounter on buses to ensure we deal with those issues and improve the service for everybody.”