Sheffield councillors 'considering costs' as pressure mounts for return of FreeBee bus

Councillors are considering the ‘costs and timings’ of a FreeBee bus in Sheffield city centre – amid mounting pressure its return.

By David Walsh
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 12:57 pm

Coun Douglas Johnson said they were talking to transport bosses about options and considering the ‘sustainability and practicalities’ of the service.

He spoke out after new council leader Terry Fox said he wanted to see an electric FreeBee return to the city centre after helping to bring it in the first time.

Meanwhile 85.2 per cent of 351 respondents to a @HelpSheffield survey said they wanted to see a shuttle running every 10 minutes.

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The launch of the original FreeBee bus in 2007.

Coun Johnson is the leader of the Greens in Sheffield and one of three Green councillors on the authority’s ruling Executive in coalition with Labour, which has seven. He is also executive member for climate change, environment and transport.

He said: “We’re continuing to liaise with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to develop options on a city centre shuttle bus. The next steps are for us to work through the detail and consider all possibilities available to us, including the sustainability and practicalities of the service.

“We know many people are in support of reintroducing the Freebus in Sheffield and we are considering both the associated costs and timings of any proposal before final decisions are made.”

The Lib Dems have urged the Greens to deliver on their promises after winning seats in a power sharing deal with Labour.

In April, Coun Johnson said it would cost £1,080,000 to buy three new, electric vehicles plus £427,000-a-year to run them.

The Star is campaigning for a return of the FreeBee to boost the city centre and compensate passengers affected by the closure of Pinstone Street to traffic in June 2020.

The move led to 27 bus services being rerouted and new stops a quarter of a mile away.

The traffic ban was introduced to allow social distancing and promote active travel. New stops were placed on Arundel Gate and Rockingham Street.

The original FreeBee had three buses on a seven-minute frequency. It ran for seven years to 2014 before being axed by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to save money.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.