A DECISION on the future of Bradford Interchange bus station will be made in September but transport bosses say a temporary station will be in place for 2025 whatever the final decision.

And it has been revealed that the closure of the bus station is costing its operators, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), up to £238,000 a month.

On Friday, transport bosses at the combined authority gave a press briefing providing updates on the Interchange bus station, which has been shut since early January.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Signs at Bradford InterchangeSigns at Bradford Interchange (Image: Newsquest)

They acknowledged that the closure was causing huge issues for Bradford residents, but said finding a solution was a major priority for the authority – and that money would be available for either a replacement or repairs.

Although the 1970s structure was “reaching the end of its expected 50-year lifespan” they said repairs to the existing Interchange had not been ruled out, but that it will be shut until at least September.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford InterchangeBradford Interchange (Image: Newsquest)

Before any decision is made, work will begin on creating an “enhanced rail gateway” in front of the Interchange, which will provide rail users with facilities that have been lacking since much of the building closed.

The bus station section of Bradford Interchange was closed in early January after concrete fell into the building’s basement following damage thought to have been caused by “severe water ingress.”

Since then bus users have been forced to start and end their journeys at bus stops scattered around the city centre.

Since then, WYCA has been heavily criticised for a lack of transparency over the future of the Interchange.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford InterchangeBradford Interchange (Image: Newsquest)

At today’s briefing Simon Warburton, executive director for transport, and Dave Haskins, director of assets and passenger experience, said the final decision will be made at a September meeting of the combined authority.

Options will include a permanent closure of the bus station and a replacement facility, a partial reopening or a full reopening.

Before then the authority is looking at possible sites in the city centre that would be suitable for a temporary bus station that would be operational in time for Bradford’s year as City of Culture.

Mr Haskins said the closure of the bus station was “not undertaken lightly, and we are concerned about the disruption it has caused". 

“Work has been moving as quick as it can," he added.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford InterchangeBradford Interchange (Image: Newsquest)

“The Interchange was built in the 1970s and had a life span of 50 years, so it is becoming more difficult to operate safely.”

He said WYCA had invested around £13m on refurbishments and safety work at the Interchange in the past 10 years.

Initial surveys after the closure found “significant drainage issues,” he added, but said the initial inspections were not able to cover every section of the eight acre structure.

Staff are currently conducting more invasive surveys, and these will be completed by September.

After that future options, and their likely costs, will be put before members of the combined authority who will decide the best way to progress.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford InterchangeBradford Interchange (Image: T&A)

He said money that had been set aside for work to improve land around the Interchange – a £22m scheme that includes the demolition of the NCP car park - would be used to improve the area in front of the station, used mainly as a taxi rank.

When asked what the likelihood of the bus Interchange being reopened, Mr Warburton said: “We genuinely don’t know at this stage. There are complex structural issues to be put right, and we need to have the full evidence of what these issues are.

“We then have to weigh up the costs associated with putting them right versus doing something different than just repairing.”

He said the station's current site had “clear locational benefits” adding: “It offers that easy change between rail and bus, and this shouldn’t be overlooked, but there are also developing plans in Bradford."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford InterchangeBradford Interchange (Image: Newsquest)

He said plans for a new rail station for the city centre would mean it may not be essential for any new bus station to remain where it is in the future.

But he acknowledged that this could be many years off, adding: “That’s why we need to be thinking what we should do now so we can have the best offer out there.

“Quite rightly people expect us to address current issues, not just future plans.”

When asked whether any temporary station for City of Culture would have adequate facilities, he said: “We’re totally committed to there being a good bus gateway in place.

“It needs to provide what customers rightly expect in a city centre – toilets, route information, a place to speak to staff, space where they are protected from the weather.

"Ideally we want to get everything back into one location.”

He said the authority had a shortlist of around three city centre sites for a temporary bus station, but could not give details as they were in discussion with landowners.

Asked for more detail on the planned refurbishments of the Interchange gateway, he said: “It is very important that we don’t overlook the fact that the Interchange will be the principal rail station in the city centre for the time being.”

Work would include the refurbishment of the escalator to the rail lines and resurfacing of the ramp next to Bridge Street. The taxi rank area would also be re-established as a public square in time for 2025.

Customer toilets would also be opened for rail passengers, and shops might be introduced in this space.

Asked about the ongoing costs to combined authority the closure has caused, Mr Haskins said the cost of added security to stop trespassers entering the station and the need to provide temporary facilities for staff was coupled with lost income due to a lack of rent from retailers.

The authority has lost between £204,000 and £238,000 a month due to the closure – not including the costs of the surveys.

Mr Warburton said the authority would find the money needed to either replace or repair the Interchange, and it was a major priority.

After the briefing, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said: “We are very sorry for the disruption caused by the closure of the bus station and roadworks linked to investment in the city centre.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy BrabinWest Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin (Image: WYCA)

“We are working flat out to come to the right decision on the future of the Interchange, bearing in mind the critical importance of public safety.

“In the meantime, residents and businesses have my word that we will continue to invest in Bradford to make a great success of this magnificent city as its 2025 UK City of Culture year approaches.”

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: "We all know just how difficult the closure of the Interchange has clearly been for passengers and local businesses. I understand and share the frustration felt.

"It’s in everyone’s interests to get the findings of the surveys the combined authority has commissioned as quickly as possible. We need clear answers on the future of the building.

“We are working closely with the combined authority to plan next steps whatever the outcome of the surveys."