WHARFEDALE passengers have raised concerns directly with a bus company at a public meeting.

The event, held at the Heart Centre in Headingley on Thursday, February 7, was organised by MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West).

Mr Sobel was joined by Councillor Neil Walshaw, who chaired, Neil Wallace from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and Brandon Jones and Tom Bridge from First Bus. Also attending were Councillors James Gibson and Jonathan Pryor.

The meeting’s panel heard concerns about reliability, customer service and the First app. The First Bus representatives, meanwhile, said the introduction of new, cleaner buses with smart ticketing had resulted in passenger growth on some services - and they hoped to see it extended.

One young passenger described persistent problems with trying to use e-ticketing on her phone for night journeys, while there were several calls from Bramhope residents for improved reliability on the X84.

Otley resident Mike Blackwell, meanwhile, raised concerns about connections with Menston train station. Speaking afterwards, he said: “As a resident of Otley I was pleased to have the opportunity to express my concerns, particularly about connectivity issues at Menston station.

“I am so grateful to Alex Sobel for arranging this meeting and am pleased he seems to be holding First’s feet to the fire on behalf of passengers like me.”

Sue Timme, of Bramhope, said: “As a regular user of the X84 bus route for work and pleasure it was a good opportunity to give feedback to First Bus and Metro and listen to their responses.

“The current service, which is the only way to access Leeds on public transport, can be very frustrating but it was encouraging to hear of future improvement plans.”

Mr Sobel said: “I want to thank all my constituents who came to the meeting as well as to those who have written to me their concerns. I have followed these up with First and will continue to do so.

“I am a bus user and share the frustrations of many of my fellow passengers regarding the reliability of the service.

“Punctuality is something that we need drastic improvement on if we are to provide a decent service to existing passengers and encourage car users to leave their cars at home and use public transport.

“There were many concerns raised regarding the new fares and the app and I will be following those up. I thank First for agreeing to this meeting and have requested a further one to take place in Wharfedale.”

External Communications Manager at First Bus, Brandon Jones, added: “I thank Alex for setting up this meeting which was a valuable listening exercise for us. There were a wide range of topics discussed, many of which that we are working hard to address so we can improve our customers’ experience.”