THREE bus companies have hit out at what they describe as “diabolical” planning for last month’s UCI Cycling Championships.

Representatives from First Bus, Arriva and Transdev say Bradford Council only met with them to discuss road closures for the cycle race weeks before the event.

The event took place on Saturday September 28, and saw some of the world’s top female cyclists begin the championship race in Bradford city centre before weaving through the district, including through Manningham, Shipley and Baildon.

The race involved numerous road closures through the day, and at a meeting this week representatives from the bus operators that service Bradford hit out at the planning of the event.

Despite the scale of the event and road closures, bus bosses claimed Bradford Council only sat down with them to discuss the closures 41 days before the event, leaving them struggling to plan bus services on the day, when tens of thousands of cycle fans came to the city.

How UCI Women Elite Road Race brought the world to Bradford

West Yorkshire Combined Authority oversees transport and infrastructure throughout the area. On Monday the Authority held a meeting of its Bradford District Consultation Sub-Committee, a group made up of Councillors and members of the public and which raises issues to do with transport in Bradford.

During that meeting, bus users raised concerns about confusion over bus travel on the day.

One bus user also claimed the confusion led to some elderly passengers being shuffled onto buses to Buttershaw when they wanted to go to Idle.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of the three bus companies, who hit out at Bradford Council for poor planning of the road closures surrounding the event.

Mohammed Raja from First Bus said: “What we were told would happen didn’t happen. It caused us a lot more problems than we anticipated. It was so difficult because things were happening that we weren’t aware of.”

He said the first chance bus operators had to sit down with the council was just a few weeks before the race, and that he and other operators were “incredulous” over how the situation was handled.

Other events that saw city centre road closures, such an the Tour De Yorkshire, involved meetings between the Council and bus companies at least six months beforehand.

Mr Raja said the operators were now waiting for a meeting with Bradford Council to discuss the issues from the day.

Phil Jolley from Transdev said: “Other Councils that hosted the event were totally different. In fact in the major town that had the event (Harrogate) we were able to run buses every day very smoothly.

“It was diabolical really. We as operators suffered and our customers suffered. We were unable to get the information out there in good time.”

Councillor Taj Salam, chair of the Committee, said: “Planning for this was happening as far back as January, are you saying operators were not informed until a few weeks before?”

He was told that the first meeting between the Council and bus operators took place on August 19.

Cllr Salam said he would raise the issue with Council bosses, adding: “This should never have happened, bus operators should be invited from the offset rather than the Council just telling you what is going to happen last minute.”

Gareth Logan, a public representative on the panel, said: “There was a lot of misinformation on the day. I saw a number of elderly people standing at bus stops not knowing where to go. One elderly lady was taken to Buttershaw but she wanted to be in Idle. Staff were putting people on the wrong buses.”

Cllr Salam said: “Clearly there are lessons to be learned here, and I will be asking those questions.”

Following the meeting a Council spokesperson, said: “The UCI announced the route for the Women’s Elite Race back in September 2018 and we worked with all our partners keeping them updated and informed as to how the event would be managed. Managing road closures for an event of this scale and importance brings with it many challenges some of which are beyond the Council’s control.

“We will be sitting down with representatives from the bus companies this week to talk through the UCI World Championships and see if there are any improvements which can be made in planning future events.”