FEW things get people more hot under the collar than bus service changes. Political Reporter Richard Marsden reports on public reaction to the planned shake-up of Sheffield’s network
STAR readers have come forward with a host of complaints and suggestions about Sheffield’s bus network as transport chiefs consult on major changes.
Under the Sheffield Bus Partnership scheme, all routes are being reviewed with some re-routed, a small number axed and others improved.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, the city council and operating companies are proposing to work together to provide the service and offer shared ticketing arrangements.
Route changes, frequency, old buses and high fares were the main gripes from readers.
Chris Oates, a passenger on the 53 Ecclesfield to Lowedges service which is supposed to run every 10 minutes, called for action to ensure buses are properly spaced. He said: “Will the changes mean that two buses are not running together then gap of 20 minutes?”
Mary Bevan said: “I couldn’t care less which operator runs our bus route but I do hope we get a better service than at the present.
“We live at Brightside and can only use the 36/37 to town and the 36/35 back home. It’s a half-hourly service but more often than not it doesn’t turn up, which is not good enough.
“We wait in Castle Street and see about 10 number 52 buses going to Woodhouse. Why can’t we have a bus service like that?”
Gaynor Cooper, a secretary at DLA Piper law firm in the city centre, said: “I will wait with bated breath to see how the changes pan out in my area. I live in High Green where the bus service has just got worse and worse over the years. We are now left with a 75 run by First or an 87 run by Stagecoach.
“Both these routes take over an hour to get into the city centre. They both then carry on past the city centre to Lowedges and Jordanthorpe so both are prone to be stuck in traffic at the other end of the journey at busy times and are therefore regularly late or missing for the journey home.
“I have been using the 66 run by First lately but again, this is a Rotherham bus so has a long route. Also, the buses are ancient and dirty.
“I would just like to see a return to a more direct route, more regular buses and cheaper fares.”
A Shiregreen passenger said: “This morning, I waited nearly half an hour for the 47/48 service which is supposedly every 12 minutes. Then, two came together. Now on an odd occasion that might be acceptable, but this is a daily occurrence.
“About three years ago, First announced in a blaze of glory in The Star that they had bought a whole new fleet of double-deckers to service this route.
“We got our new buses as promised, but within six months they started to disappear. Today, the normal buses on this route will be an 01 or 02 registration, making them over 10 years old.”
Clive Craven-Griffiths, of Middlewood, called for action to make services cheaper. He said: “I am afraid that the bus services in Sheffield are just too expensive.
“To pay £4 odd for a day bus ticket is outrageous when you just want to go into town for a few things.
“Buying a weekly ticket is obviously cheaper but now you are locked in to that provider so you have to watch competing services go by and wait for your bus provider.
“Weekly tickets should be priced on distance and not depend on whether there is any competition on your route.”
Kevan Smith, of Manor - unhappy about existing ticketing arrangements which will be changed under the new partnership - said: “I buy a Stagecoach Monthly Megarider at a cost of £47.50 which equates to £570 annually and allows me to travel on Stagecoach buses and trams but if I use one of the Optio routes where both First and Stagecoach buses operate then I have to buy a ticket to use both buses.
“Why is my Stagecoach Megarider pass not valid on First buses on Optio routes?”
Other readers had suggestions for improved services.
Richard Henderson said: “I live in Norton Lees and I am a disabled person who relies on the buses to get me out and about.
“The area is mainly covered by the bus route 17 and 39 as well as those fit enough to get up the hill onto Warminster Road to get the 20.
“The bus services in Norton Lees have always been poor and it has become a regular feature for people to discuss ‘who has complained to who’ about the buses whilst stood at the bus stop.
“The 17 is often late or missing with no service at all after 8pm and no service on a Sunday.
“The 39 always run late and there are only six buses in the day Monday to Friday, with old-style double-decker buses which are difficult to get on and off.
“And the 20 sometimes runs late or is missing. It only has one bus every hour in the evening and on Sunday.
“It often feels like Norton Lees is seen by the transport companies as a second class citizen and any old rubbish service will do.
“My wish list for buses in Norton Lees would be evening, late night and Sunday service on the 17 route, a Saturday service on the 39 route and seating at the bus stop on Warminster Road, near The Sportsman Pub, for us disabled and elderly.”
But the proposed changes have angered some passengers.
John Scholey, who lives on Clifford Road, off Psalter Lane, said: “There are a lot of elderly people living in the area, not to mention the Sheltered Housing at Southcroft, and the removal of the number 4 service will have a very detrimental effect on their quality of life.
“They should reinstate a half-hourly service in place of one of those that runs on Ecclesall Road.”
Paul Taylor, of Victoria Street, Stocksbridge, was unhappy with proposed route changes around Stocksbridge and Deepcar, which involve just the 57 and SupertramLink bus running to the area. He said: “Can you please tell my how I can get for doctors appointments at Deepcar Medical Centre with the new proposed bus changes? The 57 runs just once an hour at present.
“It could mean having to possibly wait up to an hour prior to an appointment and then waiting up to a possibly another hour to get home.”
n FURTHER comments about bus services were made to The Star’s Facebook site.
Tommy Aitchison said: “How come there’s so many of one service such as 120 and 52 in the city centre compared to Rotherham to Crystal Peaks which is one an hour, finishes early and has no Sunday service?”
Martyn Ogden said: “Why is the number 56 Wybourn service always missing and when one does turn up, two or three are following one another! Poor service!”
He added he believed ‘competition on every route’ would improve the service.
Mick Ibbotson added: “When are they going to put ‘providing a service’ in front of profit?”
Kayleigh Bradley said: “Why does the A1 often not turn up? Also Stagecoach is so much cheaper than First?”
Steve Hill, who catches the 22 which runs between Nether Edge and Woodhouse, said: “It is absolutely soul destroying watching 52 after 52 service pass every few minutes while waiting for a missing or late 22 bus.”
Stephen France added: “The 22 bus is a joke.”
Mark Bucks, who catches the 14 to Wisewood and Loxley bus, said: “Our bus has been cut to three buses an hour and that’s if they turn up.
“Why does Stannington have two SupertramLink buses and the 11 and 12?
“Whay can’t Wisewood have one of these SupertramLink buses?”
Elizabeth Frampton added: “The 51 route is a very bad service with spasmodic long waits and two or three buses missing then several coming together. Why does the service have to go all the way from Lodge Moor to Charnock and not be split into two to make it more reliable?”
Elderly people face losing vital service
TRANSPORT chiefs have pledged to listen to the public and could make changes to the plans as a result.
Elderly people living off Psalter Lane, Nether Edge, have been among the most vocal - angered by the proposed axing of their only service, the number 4.
The protests have been led by residents Jean Cromer, a former Labour city councillor, and Dorothy Manners, aged 84, who said pensioners may become ‘housebound’ as a result of the loss.
The nearest alternative services are on Ecclesall Road, which involves a steep walk which they say elderly people will find difficult.
David Young, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport’s director of customer experience, said: “We are working on a possible alternative solution for Psalter Lane which we will consider along with other requests for changes to the proposals received during the consultation process.”
A Question Time-style debate is being held at St Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane, from 5pm on Thursday where bus passengers can quiz bus operators and transport chiefs about the changes.
Submit questions in advance for the meeting by calling 0114 2734567 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOME OF THE PLANNED CHANGES
Route 4 service will no longer run from city centre along Cemetery Road and Psalter Lane.
Number 84 bus to Ringinglow to be axed without replacement.
Service 6 to Fulwood via Hunters Bar and Nether Green, which passengers feared could be under threat, to be retained and renumbered 83A.
Extra services to Wincobank with 76 diverted to run from Fir Vale to Firth Park, Wincobank and Meadowhall.
Route 10 between Upperthorpe and Manor Park extended to form a circle running via the city centre.
Route 83 extended in Ecclesall to run from Ecclesall Road down to Abbeydale Road.
New Supertram Link service from Crystal Peaks to Killamarsh.
Service 123 extended to run from Woodhouse to Crystal Peaks via Beighton.
New service 13 from city centre to High Green via Infirmary Road, Hillsborough and Grenoside.
Route 66 will no longer run between Chapeltown and city centre.
City centre-Upperthorpe-Lower Walkley-Hillsborough service 31 and 31A to be retained.
Minibus services to be introduced - M92 between Fox Hill, Grenoside, Ecclesfield and Chapeltown, M17 Dore to Bradway and Jordanthorpe.
Maps are also available from Sheffield Council offices and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.