Leeds' 'unreliable' public transport could be keeping people out of work

Researchers said people from poorer communities in Leeds 'consistently highlighted' public transport as a 'significant barrier to work'.

People living in low-income areas of Leeds are finding it difficult to make a living as the city's public transport networks are 'limiting access to job opportunities'.

That is according to a new study conducted by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield.

The researchers said that during interviews, people from four poorer communities in Greater Manchester and Leeds 'consistently highlighted' public transport as a 'significant barrier to work'.

They said there was a distinct lack of affordable and reliable transport available to those who could not afford cars.

Many pointed out they were applying for insecure, low-wage jobs and that if they were late to work, they could easily lose their jobs.

A man from Seacroft told researchers: "I was talking to my advisor, there’s a place called Sherburn-in-Elmet and they have tons of work, big industrial estate but there’s no bus service, it’s about 13 miles away.

"If you haven’t got a car you can’t have a job"

"I do not understand why they build a big estate where there’s no transport, that’s like tough, if you haven’t got a car you can’t have a job."

Researchers concluded the unreliability of local buses could create ‘cut-off commuter zones’ where people are unable to access an affordable and reliable form of public transport to travel long distances for work.

Brian Robson, acting head of policy and research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "It’s unacceptable that large numbers of people seeking work are being locked out of job opportunities simply because of poor public transport connections.

"The experiences of low-income residents makes it abundantly clear that we must properly invest in transport networks within cities not just between them.

“Currently unaffordable and unreliable public transport is holding people back from being able to achieve a better standard of living.

"With more powers being devolved to city and local leaders, now is the time to redesign our transport, housing and economic policies so that everyone can get into work and progress in their careers.”

Ed Ferrari, director of the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, said: "Problems with high fares, poor coordination between different providers and services, and lack of reliability seriously hamper the ability of low-income groups to commute to more distant jobs."

"Fundamental weaknesses in the way that bus services are regulated and subsidised are effectively locking the poorest out of the opportunities within the modern economy.

"Policy makers in Britain need to see investment in high quality local transport systems as an investment in national productivity and tackling inequality."

Leeds City Council has said that even though the city has enjoyed significant economic growth in recent years, 'transport infrastructure has not kept pace' because of a lack of investment.

It has promised to invest £270 million into a project called the Leeds Public Transport Programme, which aims to make travelling around the city easier and greener.

The main focus of the multi-million project is buses.

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