Leeds is a compact city with an excellent public transport network, and the city is continually investing in upgrades to its transport links and infrastructure, making commutes increasingly efficient. The city is also a well-connected regional hub, allowing its residents easy access to other parts of the UK and Europe.
While roads in Leeds are in good condition, locals deem travelling by car unnecessary and more trouble than it’s worth. That said, those looking to explore the beautiful Yorkshire countryside and those chauffeuring their little ones may benefit from owning a vehicle.
Public transport in Leeds
Leeds has several bus services, most of which operate both in the city centre and towards the outskirts. The Leeds FreeCityBus is accessible for free using validated bus or train tickets. The service connects passengers to the bus and rail stations and the business and shopping districts in Leeds. The coaches, usually run by the National Express, travel to other UK cities.
Buses in Leeds are relatively punctual, but the lines running in the city centre are sometimes affected by the city’s considerable traffic congestion. Bus fares are reasonably priced and can be paid with cash, contactless payments, mobile or group travel tickets.
The MCard is a multi-operator reloadable smartcard allowing travellers access to buses and trains across West Yorkshire and is a convenient and inexpensive way to get around Leeds. Students, pensioners, people with disabilities and under-19s are eligible for discounts.
Located in the city centre, Leeds railway station is the main terminal in the city and the busiest outside of London. The station is usually open 24 hours.
Multiple rail services operate in Leeds, each with different routes and offerings. Some travel to the suburbs of Leeds and across the country, while others ferry passengers to neighbouring countries. The trains also connect Leeds with major UK cities, including London, Liverpool and Birmingham.
The picturesque Leeds Docks serve as the water taxi rank. The water taxis carry passengers between the scenic Granary Wharf and the dock and run every 15 minutes. Kids under five ride for free, while fares for older children and adults are reasonable as well.
Taxis in Leeds
Taxis in Leeds abound and are easy to find. Taxi ranks are available on most main streets and next to the Leeds railway station. Riders can also hail hackney carriages (the black and white taxis) on the street.
Private taxis such as Amber Taxis or Uber can be ordered in advance by phone or using the company’s mobile app. Passengers should make sure the taxi is licensed to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
Driving in Leeds
As Leeds has a smaller and pedestrianised city centre, driving can be a frustrating affair. Parking in the city centre is scarce and expensive, while Leeds charges a road tax, not to mention nightmarish fuel prices. New arrivals considering owning a car will therefore need to budget carefully and consider whether it’s worth it. Be that as it may, driving can be convenient for those with tots or those living in the suburbs.
To make driving more affordable, newcomers can carpool or use one of the Park and Ride facilities in the Leeds city centre, which allow drivers to safely park their car and continue their commute on public transport. The roads in Leeds are well maintained and easily navigable, apart from the loop in the centre, which can be confusing for new arrivals.
Walking in Leeds
The charming Leeds city centre is highly walkable; to further encourage walking, Leeds has reduced the speed limit for vehicles and widened the pavements on several streets.
Cycling in Leeds
Cycling is a fun, cheap and healthy way to get around in Leeds. The city has made it easy for cyclists with dedicated cycle lanes and paths running from many neighbourhoods into the city centre.
The Ride-to-Work Scheme, operated by Evan's Cycle, allows cycling enthusiasts to buy a bicycle and accessories through monthly instalments taken directly from their salaries. Families and children can also loan bikes from one of the 13 Yorkshire Bike Libraries sites around Leeds at no cost.