An urgent call to reverse controversial bus cuts in Sheffield will be debated by councillors after more than 5,000 people signed a petition in less than a week.
Frustrated passengers had backed the online campaign, which was set up after sweeping changes to the network came in on November 1, at a rate equivalent to 40 signatures per hour or almost 1,000 per day. They vented their spleen with angry comments about the ‘fiasco’, with a disabled woman saying she had been left ‘housebound’ and others that they were having to set off hours early to get to work.
One of several bus drivers who signed the petition said: “I think this has caused complete havoc in Sheffield.”
As the petition has now passed the 5,000-signature milestone, it will trigger a debate at a Sheffield Council full meeting.
Greenhill teacher Joanne Lumley, who started the campaign online and has since written to all of Sheffield’s six MPs, said: “I am taken aback by the response.
“People have not been listened to and these problems were what they said was going to happen during consultation so hopefully now we will be able to get some, if not all, of them changed to make it more suitable for commuters.
“Some of the comments on the petition make you feel so sorry for people – there are elderly people who are not able to get out because their routes have been cut.”
Mum Joanne said she was also looking at how people without internet access could sign the petition and would welcome support when she presents it at full council, likely to be on December 2.
Bus complaints have flooded in to The Star and transport chiefs admitted they had seen an increase in the days after the changes were implemented.
Mavis Lambert said she was struggling to visit her husband, former Rotherham United player Roy Lambert, at Longley Park View nursing home.
The 78-year-old makes the two-hour round trip from Swinton up to five days a week but can no longer take her usual bus, the service 87.
She said: “They’ve made my life a misery.
“I now have to get the 97 and 98 which stop at the top of Longley Lane but I’ve got emphysema and it is a real problem to walk down.
“Five minutes doesn’t sound like a long walk but there are a lot of people worse than me, you see them getting off their buses on two sticks and having to endure the walk all the way down the hill. I do think they should put the buses back to how they were.”
Sheffield Bus Partnership – of which Sheffield Council is a part, along with bus operators and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive – claimed the changes would make it easier and cheaper for people to get around, with new discounted tickets also introduced.
However a poll run by The Star, which asked people if they thought the changes were an improvement, found 334 people believed they were not, and 23 people did.
Coun Penny Baker, deputy leader of Sheffield’s Liberal Democrat party, called on the partnership to revisit the consultation, which resulted in changes being revised.
She said: “They had a lot of responses and it has been proved that the people of Sheffield were right and they were wrong.”
A bus partnership spokesman said: “Sheffield Bus Partnership is encouraging bus users to give feedback on their journey, so we can understand where service punctuality, reliability or capacity can be improved.
“Customers can do this online at travelsouthyorkshire.com, by calling Traveline on 01709 515151 or by speaking to an adviser at an interchange.”
On Twitter the Travel South Yorkshire account posted: “Thank you for bearing with us during Sheffield’s bus changes. We’re sorry some services haven’t been right & we’re taking comments on board.”