Transport chiefs in West Yorkshire are moving ahead with a controversial plan to stop printing bus timetables.
After voting in March to scale back its pocket timetable booklets over the next five years, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is to put its proposals to passengers via seven-week engagement starting on July 1.
WYCA – a group of leading councillors and officers from West Yorkshire councils, plus York, that works in conjunction with bus companies and subsidises some services – will focus on delivering information via digital means, such as on mobile devices.
It also intends to phase out offering real time information via text message.
Slimmed down, cheaper-to-produce timetables will still be made available to people that want them.
WYCA says its new Bus Information Strategy reflects the increasing preference of the county’s passengers for using online bus service information.
During the last 12 months almost two million people have used its website more than 5.85 million times and downloaded 3.2 million bus timetables.
More than 500,000 people used the website’s Journey Planner to coordinate almost 1.3m journeys.
Clr Kim Groves, chair of the WYCA Transport Committee, said: “We recognise that although research by Transport Focus tells us that just 8% of passengers in West Yorkshire still use printed timetables, it is important that we continue to make printed information available, while at the same time ensuring we are achieving cost effectiveness for Council Tax payers.”
She added: “We know printed timetables are popular with certain people, including collectors who contact us asking for all the new ones each time they are updated.
“You can even find out-of-date versions for sale on eBay.
“But, as a public body facing on-going budget pressures, we need to ensure we deliver the right product in the right formats, including pared-down printed versions.”
Bus campaigners have claimed the move towards digital could impact negatively on the elderly and “other affected members of society”.
Clr Groves said the perception that older people did not use online services did them a disservice, with statistics showing the biggest rise in Internet use was .
In Kirklees drop-in events will run from 10am to 2pm at Huddersfield Bus Station (July 31) and Dewsbury Bus Station (August 9 and 14) where questionnaires will also be available.
To take part online, go to www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/bus-information-strategy,