UP to 62 bus routes in the region could be scrapped or drastically reduced later this year when Government funding ends.

A new report into the sustainability of West Yorkshire's bus network has raised serious concerns about how services will cope when the funding – introduced to support operators through the pandemic, and amounting to around £1 million a month – finishes later this year.

The funding was made available to help keep bus services afloat at a time when there were vastly reduced passenger numbers due to lockdown and social distancing.

Despite many restrictions having now been lifted, passenger numbers are currently just 70 to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The resultant reduced income, along with rising fuel costs, has sparked fears some routes may not survive.

Originally the Government cash was due to end in the spring, but an extra six months was announced – until October.

A sustainability review of the bus network was carried out by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

A report following the review says: "Eleven per cent of the bus network (measured by mileage) is currently not generating sufficient revenue to continue to operate on a commercial basis once funding ends.

“This could impact up to 62 routes where some or all of the journeys may be withdrawn.

“There is therefore a risk that bus operators feel it necessary to withdraw or reduce services."

The authority has drawn-up a bus service improvement plan which may include funding support for services. However, this is unlikely to begin until next year.

Tracy Brabin, mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “I’ve been pressing Government ministers and will continue to make the case for further funding beyond October.

“I also hope the bus companies will understand this is a transition period and they will need to take some of the financial strain.

“The people of West Yorkshire deserve a service that serves all our communities rather than only running the routes that make substantial profits.”

Matthew Topham, a campaigner with Better Buses for West Yorkshire, said the cuts would be "devastating".

He added: "A bus network that cannot take the profits coming in on busy commuter routes and use them to support quieter, essential services isn’t fit for purpose.

"We need more Government support now but we also need London-style public control to allow us to make the network more efficient and unlock the power to cross-subsidise services."