THE “scale of benefits” that a new mass transit system would bring to Yorkshire have been hailed by a transport body, as proposals to revive a travel masterplan move one step closer.

In recent years, plans for a transport system that would link towns in West Yorkshire, including one route linking Dewsbury, Bradford and Leeds, have been mooted by local transport bosses.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority have been developing plans for a system in collaboration with partner councils, and hope it would offer a new public transport option and an attractive alternative to car travel.

A document set to go before WYCA’s transport committee next week claims a mass transit system would help create a “low carbon future” as well as regenerate neighbourhoods and strengthen the economy.

Transport bosses map out case for mass transit system linking Bradford with Leeds

The report added: “Whilst the cost of implementing mass transit can be high, the scale of benefits which it delivers are also high. Other cities in the UK and beyond are demonstrating mass transit does offer high value for money and can also open up new funding opportunities.”

At its meeting earlier this year, WYCA agreed to continue to undertake early works to plan for mass transit across the region, while the devolution deal published by government in March 2020 included a commitment to “explore the case for funding a modern, low carbon West Yorkshire Mass Transit System”.

The board now looks set to approve £2.041m to enable early feasibility and design work, which is expected to continue until early 2021.

However, the report adds that, even if the scheme is successful, it is unlikely building work would begin until at least the “mid-2020s”.

The section of the proposals most likely to impact Bradford residents is a route that links Dewsbury to the University area of Leeds, via Bradford city centre.

It would include stops in areas not currently linked to rail networks, including Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton, Junction 26 of the M62, an undisclosed area of “South Bradford” and Laisterdyke.

It would also include stops at existing stations at Low Moor, Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square and Pudsey.

The report, set to go to next week’s meeting, stated: “It is essential that the business case for mass transit considers the emerging longer-term implications of Covid-19.

“As the timescales to deliver any mass transit proposals are longer than the time it will take for Covid-19 implications to become clearer, it will be possible to continue to test the mass transit/Covid-19 implications at each stage of the business case and Assurance Framework process.”

In late 2018, WYCA raised eyebrows by discussing a ‘tube’-style map indicating the communities most likely to be served by mass transit.

Details of how the scheme would work are yet to be decided, but previous meetings have heard the final product could be battery powered.

The money being invested by the Authority next week will fund the creation of a Strategic Outline Case to identify route options and ‘mode options’ for each transit corridor, look at the impacts of Covid 19 on the proposals and undertake concept design development for routes identified.

The scheme will be discussed at an online meeting next Wednesday.