Sweeping changes to bus services across Sheffield which were decided today have been branded the ‘biggest ever cut on a single day’.
Transport chiefs have agreed proposals to remove, replace, reduce and renumber buses across Sheffield despite last-ditch protests this afternoon.
Campaigners demonstrated outside the meeting in Barnsley while inside protesters highlighted how the changes would hit people travelling to work or for hospital appointments.
Martin Mayer, secretary of Sheffield Trade Union Council, asked councillors if they wanted to ‘take the political responsibility for the biggest ever cut on a single day to Sheffield buses’ – which he said amounted to at least a 10 per cent cut.
Sheffield Bus Partnership claims the proposals will improve the city-wide bus network, reduce duplication and pollution, and make it more efficient.
The plans were revised after thousands of people raised concerns during a heavily criticised public consultation.
The cuts and changes will now come into force from the weekend starting October 31 after the plans were agreed.
Plans were revised after thousands of people took part in consultation, with nine separate petitions against the changes submitted.
But it was said at the meeting of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority transport committee that the amended plans would still have an impact on passengers, with several people speaking at the meeting and others protesting outside.
Geraldine O’Connor, speaking as a disabled Sheffield resident, said she only found out about the consultation in July on the day it ended.
She told councillors:”If your plans go ahead I might not be able to get to a job.”
She claimed there was potential for a judicial review because disabled people would not be able to access ‘essential services such as the Hallamshire Hospital’ via the number 70.
Graves Park Coun Ian Auckland, who sits on the committee, said it was a ‘shrinking’ bus network.
He added: “All the evidence is that shrinking networks lead to fewer passengers which leads to higher fares and so on- the only people who will benefit from that are the bus operators.”
The changes were agreed as part of an interlinked package of measures under a devolution deal for the Sheffield region.
New discounted tickets will also be available for passengers to use across services run by different operators, with prices frozen until April 2017.
These will include a CityBus day ticket for £4, which is an 11 per cent saving on current prices, and a monthly ticket at £49, which is a 23 per cent saving.
David Young, from the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, said a ‘very good number of changes’ had been made to original plans as a result of consultation and as almost 2,500 people had taken part the ‘message has got out.’
He said people travelling to hospital via the 70 would be able to change buses without having to walk.
Mr Young added: “There’s a lot of discussion about it all being bad news and cuts - there are increased services in some cases.
“These are all based on the actual patronage data, use it or lose it is very much a cliche but and if customers are not using the services it is not sustainable to keep them running.”
He said that most passengers’ concerns had been addressed by the revised proposals and some services had seen positive changes.
The meeting also heard that it was estimated there would be ‘30 less job opportunities’ for people as a result of the changes, but no compulsory redundancies.
Some of the bus changes to apply from October 31 are:
- The service 70 from Dore received the most comments - at 237 - during consultation.
The original plan was to reroute it away from the Hallamshire hospital but now ‘peak period’ services will be put on to allow access to the hospital, schools and university.
- Original changes to the 84 services between Bents Green and Crystal Peaks were to remove buses from Loxley to the city centre -but sparked 122 complaints. Now an extension to the service 61 and 62 will run to the city centre every half hour during the daytime, but ‘insufficient usage’ after 12 months will mean it is removed. Early morning journeys will be introduced on the 31 to replace those lost on the 84.
- In Stannington, a campaign to save the SL2 Supertram link had an impact, and it will be retained to run every 20 minutes.
- Planned changes to reduce the frequency of the service 19 from Heeley Green to Chancet Wood via Woodseats, from every half hour to every hour, also attracted more than 100 complaints. Now an evening and Sunday service has been confirmed as an extension of the service 18. The service 2a will be withdrawn from Millhouses and be sent to Chancet Wood every half hour in the daytime.
The partnership says current patronage cannot support more than an hourly service.
- Concerns were raised about changes to the 20A from Hillsborough to Hemsworth as it was to be replaced by a number 18 service, which would have terminated at Woodseats.
Now the service 18 has been extended to the city centre via the 19 route at Hollythorpe. Chancet Wood estate will be covered by an hourly service and the partnership says patronage is too low for more than that.
- In Arbourthorne, the 70 services was to have a revised route via Eastern Avenue instead of East Bank Road, which triggered a large petition. Now the service 42 has been amended to operate via East Bank Road and Eastern Avenye to provide an extra two buses per hour. The partnership says ‘school journeys will be considered if there is an identifiable need.’
- Passengers complained about a loss of service in Bradway and Lowedges under planned changes to the 4/4a services with a new route replacing others. Now the service 4a will be extended to operate to Longford Road while stops in Lowedges are to be reviewed.
- The loss of a link to Hillsborough was the main concern raised over changes to the service 79. Plans were changed to restore the link.
- Journeys on the 120 from Fulwood to Halfway are to be extended to Ranmoor rather than ending at the Hallamshire hospital.