Public transport is a hot issue for local people, judging by the emails, messages and conversations every week from beleaguered local public transport passengers complaining about overcrowding, expensive fares, poor timetables, lack of routes and cancelled buses and trains. It’s so frustrating as a lot of the problems we’re suffering now can be traced back to the deregulation of buses back in 1986 and with train privatisation, with private companies calling most of the shots where all our public transport is concerned.
Passengers have been so badly let down over the summer by the Northern franchise, Northern was originally awarded by the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition government. I’m as fed up as many other local people and sympathise with those who rely on the services every day and am fighting to get real public transport improvements.
With this determination to bring about change where I can, I brought West Yorkshire transport chief Kim Groves to Rothwell and Woodlesford so she could see for herself how bad things really can be for local people.
Kim says I’m always on her case demanding improvements for Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. This government won’t let Yorkshire be in charge of its own transport so we can’t force the private bus and train companies to provide better services. But Kim has pledged to put lots of pressure on them. I’m working with Kim so that Rothwell is included in the Leeds urban ticket scheme. I raised this with Kim when she first took over in May and she is working to resolve the boundary issues which have so far prevented Rothwell being part of the scheme which would give our residents the better value ticket. It’s disgusting that local people have to pay more to get into Leeds than people in Morley, Pudsey or Garforth.
I’m working with Kim to get Northern Rail to improve the poor service from Woodlesford station. Our priority is to get extra carriages on the trains to ease the chronic overcrowding.
I’m also campaigning for a bus between Rothwell and Woodlesford and Thorpe Park so local people can access jobs and the new shops and leisure outlets.
Labour has pledged to take trains back into public control and many local people have told me is a great policy, I would love for this to happen. But I’m also hoping that devolution for Yorkshire will mean that buses can be taken back into public control so people get a cheap, frequent and reliable service. I’d also love to see Leeds getting a state of the art rapid transport system after losing out with Supertram and the trolleybus scheme. Leeds deserves so much better and I’ll keep pushing for this to become a reality.
Cllr Judith Blake, the Labour leader of Leeds City Council, is leading the fight nationally to secure millions of pounds of extra funding and get decisions on transport to be made locally so that localities like Rothwell will benefit.