Low cost shuttle bus to relaunch in Sheffield city centre in victory for The Star

A cheap shuttle is set to return to Sheffield city centre - on a ‘compromise’ route - in a victory for a Star campaign.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 11:52 am

Politicians have given the greenlight to a low cost bus linking key points in the city centre every 10 minutes.

It is hoped a council-owned diesel will be in operation by the end of the summer, with government-funded electric vehicles coming later, if a bid is successful.

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The launch of the original FreeBee bus in Sheffield in 2007

Some £400,000-a-year to run it will come from the South Yorkshire mayor’s office, plus £1.4m to work up ‘a detailed design’ of the scheme, which involves roadworks.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

Travel will be free for people with a pass, with everyone else charged a ‘small, flat fee’, Sheffield City Council says.

The announcement is a victory for The Star’s campaign to bring back the FreeBee to boost city centre trade and help passengers affected by a traffic ban on Pinstone Street.

Pinstone Street was closed to traffic in 2020.

The move, in June 2020, saw more than 30 services relocated to stops a quarter of a mile away, prompting protests from passengers and shopkeepers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ORIGINAL FREEBEE?

The original FreeBee ran for seven years to 2014 before being axed by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to save money.

The new bus will link Fargate, The Moor, Sheffield Midland Station and Fitzalan Square. Buses will also be given priority on Arundel Gate.

Coun Douglas Johnson, left, and Coun Terry Fox.

Pinstone Street will remain closed to traffic. But works will be carried out to link Surrey Street and Leopold Street - creating a new route that crosses through the heart of the city centre.

WHAT ROUTE WILL THE BUS TAKE PAST THE TOWN HALL?

Roadworks will link Surrey Street and Leopold Street - creating a new route that crosses through the heart of the city centre - while Pinstone Street remains closed to traffic. Pic: Google.

Both roads were affected by the original Pinstone Street closure, with Surrey Street becoming a dead end and Leopold Street one-way.

Labour leader Coun Terry Fox had wanted Pinstone Street to reopen to buses.

Coun Douglas Johnson, leader of the Greens in Sheffield, said the project had been held up ‘for months’ due to political opposition before a compromise was reached.

He added: “It is a pity this project has been delayed by opposition from LibDem, Conservative and Labour councillors who opposed walking and cycling routes.

“However, it is a victory for cross-party working. Various claims opposing the improvements made at last September’s scrutiny committee were debunked with carefully-compiled evidence and public support.”

Leader of Sheffield City Council, Coun Terry Fox said: “We have spoken to businesses and local people about the idea of a shuttle bus and overwhelmingly the idea has been welcomed.

"We want to make changes that will make a real difference to the people who live in, work in, and visit the city centre and we’ll continue to engage with people as we develop our plans further.”

Martin Phipps, Green councillor for City Ward, said: “It's great to finally see sign-off on keeping Pinstone St closed to motor traffic.

“Residents have told us of the big difference the closure has made to air pollution. Medical professionals have petitioned the council around the importance of these walking, cycling and public transport schemes.”

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