Work to transform transport and travel around Leeds has been completed following the £270 million Leeds Transport Investment Programme.
After the start of the programme in 2018, the vision for Connecting Leeds was to deliver a transformational change in the transport network and connectivity across Leeds and the wider region, helping to bring people, places, jobs, learning and leisure closer together. This was to be achieved through improvements to road, rail, bus, park, and ride, cycling and walking services and infrastructure, reducing congestion, and improving air quality and accessibility.
Building on the £173.5million awarded by government for investment in public transport, Leeds City Council in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and further investment by bus operators has delivered significant improvements to the bus network, enhanced facilities for pedestrians and cyclists and transformed the public realm.
“In 2016, we started our biggest-ever transport conversation in which over 8,000 people told us what’s important to them and for Leeds. After working together in partnership for six years and completing this unprecedented number of projects, we’ve come to an end of this phase of our transport development.
“I’m delighted and proud to have experienced the completion of so many schemes across Leeds – from the UK’s first fully solar powered Stourton park and ride site to the wider pavements and bus priorities along the Headrow. And the fantastic new urban realm spaces around the Corn Exchange Gateway scheme. I’m really pleased to see new areas of public realms as part of these transport schemes, with new space for biodiversity and people to relax.
“There’s still much more work to do to meet our transport ambitions and that work continues. I would like to thank everyone has worked on this programme and to the people of Leeds, for their patience whilst construction has taken place in this phase as well as the next stage of transforming for the city.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “We’ve invested tens of millions into public transport in Leeds including many miles of cycle and bus lanes and the award-wining, solar-powered Stourton Park and Ride site.
“Not only has this investment been delivered on time and on budget, but it has provided a real alternative to cars, which will reduce air pollution. We have also created beautiful, green spaces that everyone can enjoy.
“I’m proud that we’re making similar improvements across the whole of West Yorkshire, so all of our communities can live happier and healthier lives.”
The council through Connecting Leeds has worked in partnership with local businesses, stakeholders, and all transport operators in the city, to deliver numerous projects, which has seen the following projects:
- Newly built and expanded park and ride facilities. These include a national award winning Stourton park and ride site with 1,200 spaces, expansion of Elland Road and Temple Green park and ride sites, totalling over 2,000 additional car park spaces.
- Improvements were made along two key corridors on the A61 South / A639 route to and from Stourton, along Pontefract Lane, Hunslet Road and Great Wilson Street and along the A647 Leeds to Bradford route to reduce bus journey times and improve service reliability, together with cycling and walking facilities. Other interventions implemented along corridors include: Alwoodley to Leeds (A61N) Harewood junction and Wigton Lane signal upgrades, A61 Harrogate Road, Potternewton Lane, Holt Lane, Adel (A660) with signal upgrades and bus priority measures along the route.
- Installed almost a thousand new real-time information boards at bus stops, along with a colour coded Leeds Core Bus Network tube map. Making it easier for users to navigate 18 bus lines for services that run every 15 minutes or better. Transforming the look and feel of bus stops with user friendly signage, 2,300 bus stops have received a facelift, greatly enhancing the user experience.
- Bus operators have introduced a fleet of new, low emission state of the art buses. These new eco-friendly buses are offering audio and/or visual next stop announcements, free Wi-Fi, improved seating, and contactless payments.
- Transformation of Leeds Bus Station to create a more modern, welcoming offer for passengers with better arrival and user experience.
- Construction of gateways accessing the city along the Headrow and at the Corn Exchange – making them more welcoming and appealing entrances for visitors and residents
- Improved connections in communities such as Mabgate, Lincoln Green, Pudsey, Bramley, Middleton, and Rothwell, with improved community walking, cycling and bus facilities
- The investment kick-started development on new rail stations in Leeds. Construction now started at the White Rose site. Business plans and land purchases have also advanced for Thorpe Park and Leeds Bradford Airport Parkway stations, along with progressing plans for Leeds City Station.
On behalf of all bus operators, Paul Matthews, Managing Director of First West Yorkshire, said: “These transformational works are now benefitting customers with new passenger facilities and improved information supported by high quality services and better reliability.
“There are well over 200 new ultra-low and zero-emission buses now helping to create cleaner air on the city’s streets and reduce carbon emissions.
“Where we provide great service quality supported by bus priority, we know we can offer a realistic alternative to the car, achieve bus passenger growth, and encourage more sustainable travel around the city.
“This has been a ground-breaking programme in respect of the partnership working and level of investment delivered. This close relationship between all partners is at the heart of what has been achieved.”
Nigel Foster, Chair of the Leeds transport advisory panel, said: “It is fantastic to see the transport and mobility improvements this investment has achieved along with the transformation it has made to parts of our wonderful city. The Connecting Leeds programme aims to build on this investment to further improve movement and accessibility for our communities and businesses.
“Providing better and more sustainable transport choices is central to our economic outcomes and our decarbonisation goals and achieving the social and environmental ambitions of Leeds to be an inclusive place that creates opportunities for everyone to thrive.”
The Connecting Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme has been a challenge to complete within a very constrained timeline, a global pandemic, and recently significant inflationary pressures. However, the team has successfully completed the wide range of transport projects and initiatives on time and within budget.
The Leeds transport conversation which began in 2016 informed us very clearly what people wanted – a range of meaningful improvements delivered as soon as possible to help make our transport network better and improve their accessibility, along with improved public transport as an alternative to reliance on using cars.
This work continued with ongoing city-wide engagement with the public and local businesses on our ambitious plans to transform travel across Leeds. Thousands of people took the time to comment online and attend events about our transport proposals – with construction on the first schemes starting in the summer of 2019.
(Picture – Leeds City Council)