Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has joined with Labour MPs from across West Yorkshire in a letter to FirstGroup in an audacious bid to bring the bus service into public ownership.
FirstGroup announced earlier this year that they would be selling First Bus and, in the letter, the MPs made the case for the West Yorkshire division to be sold separately, and the first option be given to West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).
Deutsche Bahn which owns Wakefield based Arriva Yorkshire, which operates bus services in the Wakefield District, has also indicated its desire to sell off its British bus operations.
Mary Creagh said,
“Many more people travel on buses than on trains, yet they are a Cinderella service – overlooked and underfunded. We deserve a decent and reliable service in Wakefield.
“Establishing a publicly-owned bus company run by WYCA would mean money could be reinvested into improving local services, rather than paid out to shareholders.
“To tackle the climate emergency we need a green, affordable and modern public transport system. Bringing West Yorkshire’s buses under public control would allow us to do that.”
Alex Sobel said,
“This is the start of what could be a very significant win for our constituents. We need FirstGroup first to agree to sell the West Yorkshire division separately and to give WYCA the First option to buy. Our focus then will be to make sure WYCA gets the funding that it needs and there are several potential avenues for this. The standard of our Bus service is not of the quality that it needs to be to ensure reliability for our constituents and to encourage wide scale usage. If we are successful in this campaign, we can finally provide our constituents with oversight of their service, putting the people in the driving seat.”
This comes after a WYCA meeting on 10 October where council leaders discussed the possibility of a purchase being made. Leeds City Council leader, Judith Blake, stated that there were “options and opportunities.”
Read the letter here.