KEIGHLEY Bus Company's parent firm Transdev has welcomed a decision to bring West Yorkshire bus services under public control.

West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin is pushing ahead with bus franchising following a meeting of the region's combined authority.

Speaking afterwards to the Keighley News, Transdev chief executive officer Henri Rohard said: "We welcome the announcement by mayor Brabin and look forward to working with her and the combined authority to secure positive benefits for our customers and the wider travelling public in West Yorkshire.

"Co-operation between the public and private sectors is always welcome, not least as we are moving in the same direction of travel to secure longer-term investment and improvements for West Yorkshire’s bus network."

After years of planning and consultations, members from all five West Yorkshire councils were asked at the combined authority meeting to choose between two options – franchising, where bus companies would provide services, but with the mayor and combined authority deciding on issues like routes, fares and frequencies; or a 'Partnership Plus' model, that would see bus companies retaining control of services, but with a much closer working relationship with the authority.

Members were told the latter would be the cheaper model, but wouldn't provide the authority with the same powers to retain much-needed services.

And councillors heard that whichever option was chosen, an existing plan was in place to try to improve services in the short term.

Many voiced support for franchising, but the model – which will likely take years to implement – didn't have backing from all councillors.

Worth Valley councillor Rebecca Poulsen, leader of the Conservative group on Bradford Council, said: "We need better services across West Yorkshire, but we need them now, not after potentially years and years of legal battles. Residents deserve better services without passing the risk on to the taxpayer."

The majority of the panel voted in favour of the franchising model, with Cllr Poulsen and Cllr Alan Lamb – leader of the Conservatives on Leeds Council – voting against.

The decision fell to Ms Brabin, who opted to push ahead with the franchising.

She said: “What a historic moment for West Yorkshire – bringing buses back into public control and putting passengers first. It is the biggest change in how buses are run in 40 years. We know change won’t happen overnight, and the hard work to improve our existing bus network will continue.”