a NEW voluntary partnership which aims to improve bus services, lower fares, and increase reliability in Sheffield has been recommended to transport chiefs.
The South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority will next week decide whether to approve the partnership agreement – through which operators and officials will work more closely together.
If approved by the authority, and by Sheffield Council, it will take effect from October 28.
It will aim to:
n reduce bus fares with, for example, a £4.30 city-wide day ticket - down from the current £5
n co-ordinate services better to reduce wasteful competition between rival operators
n replace more than 250 buses with modern vehicles in the next four to five years
n limit changes to routes
n increase passenger numbers
n provide a ‘stable’ bus network
The agreement would also mean that any route changes, like taking the last bus off a service, would have to be taken to the partnership with evidence before they could be implemented.
David Young, director of customer experience at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, said any money saved would be ploughed back into reducing fares.
He added: “It’s very much about getting a better bus offer that’s more affordable, that provides a better quality, more punctual reliable service, because that’s what customers have told us they want.
“The partnership would bring stability to the bus network so people don’t have to put up with constant changes.
“We think this is the right network.”
Many comments about unreliable operators were submitted during public consultation.
Work with operators to improve timetabling is ongoing on routes 17 and 17A, 20 and 20A, 22, 97 and 98 and 120 as a result.
The partnership, which would run for five years initially, would also aim to work alongside Sheffield’s new multi-million pound highways scheme to improve roads, and the ‘City Deal’ where £8m could be invested on improving buses.
The idea has been chosen instead of the second option of a Quality Contract - where the PTE would have taken control of services and contracted them to operators.
That would have taken three years to implement.