Passengers hit out at bus plans

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bus service changes aimed at making life easier for passengers have been criticised after part of one route was axed – and another passenger says changes mean he has to pay more for journeys.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, First and Stagecoach are introducing the Optio Orange scheme from July 24, launched in Tudor Square in the city centre yesterday, where the public could speak to bus bosses.

The arrangement means instead of competing with each other on routes between Halfway and Fulwood, the two firms will divide up services and passengers can buy discount tickets to use on any buses within the orange area.

But almost 600 people signed a petition handed in to Sheffield Council complaining the change will mean the loss of all buses on an extended section of the 120 route along Hallam Grange Road to Lodge Moor, currently operated by Stagecoach.

First, which will be the sole provider of buses on services running west of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, will continue to terminate its buses on Barncliffe Road, further down the hill.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport said no residents will be more than 600 metres from the reconfigured service or the alternative 51, which runs along Redmires Road.

But Fulwood resident Nancy Grayson said: “This change is supposed to be an improvement but taking away buses from Hallam Grange Road will inconvenience a lot of people and has made residents angry.

“To reach the 51 or the Barncliffe Road terminus is a steep walk and many elderly people would have difficulty.

“The change will leave us with no service.”

Jonathan Youdan, who travels to work in Fulwood but starts his trip on Burngreave Road, says his journey will be more expensive.

He said: “In spite of all the talk of being able to catch the next bus, whatever the company, the companies will not accept each other’s weekly saver tickets from outside the Optio Orange area.

“This means I will have to buy a First weekly ticket, which will cost me £7 per week more – £350 per year.”

A First spokesman said: “We understand concerns raised by residents and in making this decision we have taken into account other alternatives. Service 51 is available on Redmires Road and Service 120 will be available on Barncliffe Road. Dial A Bus service is available to any resident who has difficulty reaching the bus network.”