Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Clever Cash-Conservation Cost Control? [1]

Sheffield's City Clipper, which eventually became free under the cheap fares policy of the People's Republic of South Yorkshire was a huge success. Started with Leyland Nationals ...
... and ultimately needing nose-to-tail bendy buses ...
... it carried vast numbers of passengers. It died post deregulation and its later replacement (the FreeBee) ...
... also died in the wake of more recent funding cut-backs.

But, a few miles north, West Yorkshire PTE was developing its range of  Free buses for several of its constituent towns.

The four above still operate every ten or twelve minutes are still free, jointly funded by the City or District councils and the "Metro" PTE as appropriate.

But things were not quite to jolly in Leeds.
It began its life in 2006 as a free service, running from the City station in a one way loop. This is an early version of the timetable running every six minutes.
But by 2011 Leeds City Council was planning to withdraw its funding as a cost saving exercise. The Local press explained all.
A popular free city centre bus service in Leeds is facing the axe following a council proposal to withdraw its share of the funding.

The service, which operates around the city and has carried more than 7.5m passengers since its launch in 2006, is paid for by the council and public transport authority Metro – each providing about 185,000 and 75,000 coming from advertising.

As part of its plans to save 90m during 2011-12, the council intends to scrap its contribution and Coun Ryk Downes ...
... (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon), Metro deputy chairman, warned: "There will be no option but to withdraw the service because the whole basis is that it's a shared venture between Metro and the council." He called on the council to reconsider its proposal, arguing costs were likely to fall over the next few years as a smartcard scheme would make it easier to introduce a small charge for the service.

He said: "Public transport initiatives like the Leeds City bus have reduced car usage and its withdrawal would bring even more pressure from traffic on city centre roads and car parks."

Politicians and the bus operator First came up with a cunning plan.
The Guardian hinted:-

Transport chiefs have given the go-ahead for a flat fare trial for each journey. The free city bus has been under threat since cash-strapped Leeds council withdrew its funding last month in light of government cutbacks.

Metro spokesman Martin Driver said there had been a large public outcry over the possibility of losing the jointly funded service, which has been used by more than seven-and-a-half million passengers since it started in 2006. Driver said:

"Metro has stepped in to organise the trial in response to widespread concerns about the possible axing of the FreeCityBus service, due to funding cuts, and the many public comments by people saying they would be willing to pay to use it."

In passing, please note that to illustrate this high quality piece of public transport journalism, explaining the future of the Leeds free City Bus, The Guardian appends a lovely picture ...
... of the Huddersfield Town Bus. Well, it's near enough and it is a bus; and it does say "free" on it.

So the Free City Bus became:-
More tomorrow!

 Next city bus blog : Wednesday 27th January 


  1. The Leeds City Bus is still free to "Park & Ride" passengers, though.
    Park at Elland Road, use the P & R into Leeds, then the City bus - all for £3. Good value!

  2. The clipper was free when the bendi's started because the law prohibited the charging of fares on attics or ant bus towing a trailer.

    The law was latter changed

  3. Thanks Stuart - this will be covered in "more tomorrow"

  4. The City Clipper in Sheffield started earlier than you thought - it was initiated by Sheffield Transport before the PTE was set up, using AEC Swifts. And who remembers Leeds City Transport's equivalent, which used very early UK examples of Mercedes minibuses?

  5. Thanks RLT I thought it was STD but wasn't sure

  6. It was only 2p from its introduction in 1971 (I think) until the free service era.The City Council agreed to subsidise it at around £12,000pa when it was introduced.