Bradford Civic Society is calling for the return of the Free City Bus to central Bradford this summer in a bid to boost trade and footfall once Covid restrictions are eased.
Following a recent Council-led public consultation into proposed changes to the public realm around the Top of Town, and after a 2020 Civic Society survey of a similar nature, the Civic Society has identified a more immediate need to make sure people can travel safely and easily around the whole city centre.
The free service was first introduced in 2008, and a flat £1 fare was introduced in 2016. However the route was scrapped entirely later that year.
Si Cunningham, Chairman of Bradford Civic Society, said: “The consultation work being done by Bradford Council around how to improve public areas near Oastler Market and North Parade is welcome, but the traders and market users I have spoken to have shared their concerns about the need for immediate action to entice shoppers back into town once restrictions are eased.
Si added: “I am particularly worried that the needs of Bradford’s senior citizens may be overlooked, as many of them have said that they feel Oastler Market is becoming increasingly cut off from other shopping areas. They will be desperate to use this vital social lifeline once again as soon as possible, but will need extra support to do so.”
Bradford Civic Society has previously expressed concerns about the poor state of Kirkgate amid an increase in shop vacancies, and has called upon Bradford Council to ensure that the Top of Town doesn’t become further disconnected from Broadway and City Park once demolition works begin on Darley Street.
The call comes after an interactive map from Bradford Civic Society – launched in summer 2020 – showed that many people were concerned about the lack of connectivity between The Broadway and the Top of Town.
Si Cunningham added: “I’m looking forward to getting back into town again and backing our businesses once they reopen. Bradford Council and the Combined Authority needs to make sure traders and city centre users alike are supported and able to get around town, and a free or cheap bus could be just the ticket.”
Bradford Civic Society’s proposed route includes Bradford Interchange, The National Science and Media Museum, Oastler Market, Forster Square, Bolton Road, Broadway, and City Hall – and could include an audio guide featuring nuggets of local information or news about upcoming regeneration projects, such as Bradford Live or Darley Street Market. The Civic Society has contacted the Combined Authority about the proposal.