A petition calling for bus services in West Yorkshire to return to public control has passed 10,000 signatures.

The petition calls on Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin and the county’s council leaders to “take back control.”

The petition criticises the current system saying “bus services are broken” due to a so-called ‘deregulated’ system that allows “bus companies to do what they like.”

Bringing buses into public control, through a system called franchising, means fares, timetables and routes would be set by local authorities instead of private companies but operators may be able to continue running services under a franchise system.

Mayor Brabin made taking back control of bus services one of her main pledges when she was elected and three weeks ago took a major step with the launch of an audit into the plans.

The Better Buses for West Yorkshire campaign said that the addition of 1,200 signatures on the petition in the last three weeks should be viewed as a vote of confidence in the Mayor’s plans.

Gareth Forest, of Wakefield, who launched the petition in 2019, said: “When I started this petition, I did it in anger at my bus route that had just been cut. I wasn’t able to commute to work anymore or rely on it to see family or friends.

“I’d just attended the September Climate Strike in Leeds, and I knew then that we’d never see a change in our public transport system whilst private companies are in charge. I wanted to force politicians to see that passengers won’t accept the status quo any longer.

“Now we’ve hit 10,000 signatures, I am so proud and overwhelmed at the support this petition has got. It shows that people across West Yorkshire are crying out for change. I want my bus service back, for my community, and for our climate. It’s time for public control.”

Bus passenger Heather Peacock, who lives in Milnsbridge and works at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, said “I went to the hospital with my mum on Monday. Instead of getting the bus across we had to get a taxi which was £13! I now have to get four buses to my mum’s instead of two.

“Something has to be done and quickly. It’s affecting the elderly and infirm badly. The issue is, it’s no longer a public service, it’s just run for profits.

“I think we need to move to a system where quieter bus services should be subsidised by busier services. Getting people to the hospital should be a top priority.

“The time now has come to get buses out of these companies and back into public hands. We are dependent on Tracy Brabin to get on with her electoral promise.”

Mick Fitzpatrick, who lives in Batley and uses the bus regularly around Dewsbury and Huddersfield, said: “Now in my seventies, I am increasingly dependent on the buses. Cancellations and a restricted bus service, especially at night and in the evenings, mean that — despite living in Batley, between the major towns of Halifax, Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield and Huddersfield — I am unable to get home at all later than 11pm.

“Taking buses into public control seems common sense. If it works so well down in London and across Europe, why wouldn’t we deserve the same level of services here?”

Matthew Topham, one of the campaigners behind the petition, said: “For too long our bus network has had shareholders, often based overseas, not local people at its heart.

“Clearing this hurdle should send a clear message to council leaders and national Government: the people of West Yorkshire want our buses back.”

To sign the petition – click here