PASSENGER figures on some Keighley bus routes have soared by nearly 30 per cent, new figures show.

The increase follows the introduction last September of a new £1 flat fare on the town bus network.

The move was part of an initiative spearheaded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority to introduce new, cheaper and more regular bus services across the region.

In addition to the new £1 fare, the K3 and K7 services were increased in frequency.

And the wider package of changes created more than 1,100 extra bus journeys a month in West Yorkshire, with further additional services being introduced in the coming weeks.

Government funding was provided last year to support the Bus Service Improvement Plan.

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, says: "Improved bus services are a vital part of my mission for a better-connected region.

"I’m delighted that even more services will be hitting our streets soon – connecting communities, reducing reliance on cars and getting people where they need to go."

The improvements to services and introduction of cut-price fares form part of packages to boost bus usage in the wake of the pandemic, when revenue-hit operators had to reduce routes and frequencies.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council and chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority's transport committee, says: "The success of the Keighley flat-fare scheme shows that investment into our bus network yields results.

"We know there's still work to do, but we’re committed to making the bus a reliable, affordable and convenient way of getting around West Yorkshire."

A further round of service improvements is planned for West Yorkshire in the summer, subject to approval.

Amongst those present at the launch of the Keighley flat-fare scheme last year was the town's Labour parliamentary candidate, John Grogan, who welcomes the new figures.

He says: "These figures indicate that the combination of more frequent buses and low fares of £1 a journey on some routes in Keighley is making a real impact. Crucially the policy brings more people into Keighley town centre, which is a boost to shops and cafes."

The Government announced last autumn that in order to help people save on travel costs, it was extending its £2 bus fare cap on most routes in England – outside London – until the end of 2024.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the move was possible following the decision to cancel phase 2 of HS2.