Petition is successful with 779 signatures
To: West Yorkshire Combined Authority
West Yorkshire Combined Authority buy FirstBus and Arriva
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority have agreed to proceed with investigating the options available to them in the sale of FirstBus. They made reference to the petition in their decision meeting and accepted the initial petition signatures. Future decisions will be required by the Combined Authority on this so further public action may be needed once the options open to them become clearer.
On Thursday the 10th of October the West Yorkshire Combined Authority are meeting to decide what they should do about the likely sale of FirstBus West Yorkshire and Arriva's West Yorkshire operations. 
They are considering how this might effect plans to move to a franchised bus system like that of London and away from the deregulated privatised system the rest of the country has to put up with.
We are asking WYCA to buy FirstBus and Arriva West Yorkshire to run them for the benefit of everyone in West Yorkshire not for shareholders. Also to ensure that FirstBus is not broken up into smaller fragmented operations. And to commit to do everything they can to move to a region wide franchised system as soon as possible.
Many councils have declared Climate Emergencies and the only way we are going to tackle emissions from transport is to have an efficient, affordable, reliable public transport system.
Why is this important?
Up until the 1980s buses in England were mainly run by local councils and transport authorities. Then deregulation meant that buses had to be sold off to private companies.
In London Transport for London were allowed to move to a franchised system where routes, fares and standards for vehicles were set and private companies bid to run each route. Users need not care who runs their bus as their tickets will work on any bus but can expect a constant experience.
However in the rest of England we have a patchwork of private operators. They get to decide what routes to run and their frequency. They set the prices and usually won't accept tickets from other operators.
While in London Bus usage has gone up in the rest of the country it has declined.
We want West Yorkshire Combined Authority to take control of our buses for the benefit of everyone in West Yorkshire. Creating a proper network of reliable buses built around the needs of the region. More profitable routes can be used to cross fund less profitable but vital routes. Currently bus companies can make profits from busy routes and then get additional public money to run the vital services subsidised by councils.
There is now legislation to let this happen, the Bus Services Act 2017  finally allows Combined Authorities to move to a franchised system like London's. Only last week Greater Manchester CA announced their plans to proceed with these new powers . WYCA can't currently do this as we have no elected mayor because of a dispute with central government around how devolution should work in Yorkshire. Once this is sorted out we want WYCA (or any Yorkshire-wide Authority that replaces it) to move to a franchised system as soon as possible.
However before then there is an opportunity. FirstBus and Arriva's parent companies are about to put their West Yorkshire operations up for sale. Together they represent more than 80% of bus services in West Yorkshire .
We are calling on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to take action to buy these operations. This will make it much easier to move to franchising in the future but will allow some of the benefits of this to be realised now. There will be a cost to this now but this money should be recouped when the buses are sold to companies biding for the franchises in the future.
We are also calling for action to be taken to prevent FirstBus splitting up their operations to make them more attractive to potential buyers. This has happened in Greater Manchester and has resulted in route between areas being cut back and less profitable routes cut. This has had an immediate impact on people who rely on these services but also could make it harder for GM to implement its franchising plans. The current system of multiple operators is fragmented enough.
Please share this petition if you care about our bus services; if you are a passenger, a potential passenger or see the congestion-reduction, environmental and social benefits of more people using them.
References and further reading:
1 - https://www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/all-news-and-blogs/west-yorkshire-combined-authority-to-consider-role-in-sale-of-bus-services/
2 - https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/politics/bus-services-could-be-brought-back-under-public-control-combined-authority-claims-1-9866367
3 - https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/politics/bus-privatisation-attacked-as-transport-chief-hints-at-changes-for-first-and-arriva-bus-networks-1-9851619
4 - https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/local-news/first-bus-yorkshire-sale-could-17027301
5 - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/558349/the-bus-services-bill-an-overview.pdf
6 - https://tfgm.com/future-travel/bus-reform
Licensed under Creative Commons from Stefan Baguette.
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