Plans revealed to make bus travel FREE for everyone aged 18 and under across South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire leaders have agreed a plan which will see future plans for a cap on bus fares and proposals to make travel free for under 18s.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 10:00 am

Mayor Dan Jarvis and council leaders have agreed to enter an ‘Enhanced Partnership’ with bus operators.

The partnership aims to allow leaders to work together with operators on improved ticketing and improve frequency of services.

The new agreement will provide a means of delivering the actions set out in the MCA’s recently published Bus Services Improvement Plan (BSIP) which includes:

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Plans have been revealed to make bus travel free for people aged 18 and under.

• A cap on daily and weekly fares, access to contactless ticketing to create an easy to use system and cheap multi-operator tickets.• A faster, more reliable, and punctual network helped by significant bus priority measures.• A better bus experience with new bus shelters, on-street information with more real-time displays, backed by a new customer charter to improve passenger journeys.• A new zero emission bus fleet and on-demand bus service to be introduced before 2040, starting with community transport vehicles• A proposal to make bus travel free for everyone aged 18 and under in South Yorkshire.

The submission of the Bus Service Improvement Plan brings together county-wide initiatives and successful recent funding bids, as well as new demands to government, intended to transform local bus services alongside direct support and participation from bus operators.

South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis said: “A world-class bus service is vital if we want to build a stronger, greener and fairer South Yorkshire. It will help people get to great jobs, to South Yorkshire’s amazing sights and will help us reach our Net Zero targets by cutting our reliance on cars.

“The Enhanced Partnership is a really positive step forward in our plans to renew our region’s bus network. It’s the start of a journey which puts passengers first and provides greater powers for local leaders so we can build a bus network that will get South Yorkshire moving.

Buses in Sheffield city centre. Picture: Steve Ellis

“It means we can deliver practical improvements for passengers, whilst laying the groundwork to explore the prospect of franchising in the future, ensuring all options are left on the table.

“We want operators to work closely with us, so together, we can unlock vital funds and get to work now tackling the most pressing issues facing public transport users across South Yorkshire.”

The Bus Service Improvement Plan has been submitted to government. If the funding bid is successful, it will go out to public consultation, allowing bus passengers to have their say on the improvements proposed to their services.

The EP can specify timetables and multi-operator ticketing and allows the combined authority to take over the role of registering bus services from the traffic commissioners.

The model is seen as a stepping stone toward a bus franchise which allows the SYCA greater control over ticketing and services.

The National Bus Strategy asks local transport authorities to consider either franchising or enhanced partnerships, but a business case must be developed before franchising is entered, a process which can take several years.