A NEW strategy to radically improve bus services in Sheffield has taken a step closer to becoming a reality after being given the green light by the county’s transport authority.
The Sheffield Bus Partnership Agreement will see operators co-operating over routes, timetables and fares and giving a commitment to running newer vehicles.
Transport managers also say the scheme paves the way for cheaper fares, including a reduction in the price of an all-day Sheffield Travelmaster pass from £5 to £4.30.
The agreement is expected to result in fewer changes to routes and timetables, as well as the introduction of more eco-friendly, low-floor buses.
The plans were approved at a meeting of the South Yorkshire Intregrated Transport Authority. Sheffield Council is now required to rubber-stamp the proposals before the agreement is launched on October 28.
Coun Leigh Bramall, the city council’s cabinet member for business, skills and development, said the partnership was ‘the best deal for Sheffield’.
“It will see better buses offering a better, more reliable and affordable service, with a unified approach to customer information and a modern approach to ticketing.
“What’s more we are able to implement this from October, bringing people far better public transport now, not in three years’ time.”
Coun Bramall said the scheme was preferable to operators signing up to a ‘quality contract’ system, in which they would have to tender for services, as it is likely to lead to increased funding.
“The government has made it clear that it will support the bus partnership agreement financially – something it is equally clear it won’t do for quality contracts,” he said.
“It has recognised the agreement as innovative and ground-breaking and is willing to provide a further £8m over five years to support the agreement, giving a further boost to efforts to improve bus services.”
A consultation on the proposals was carried out throughout June and July, prompting around 2,500 responses.
Following pressure from residents, an hourly bus service along Psalter Lane will replace the 4 route, the 70 service will be extended to serve Sheffield Interchange and evening services are being retained on the 42/44 services.
There will be changes to the proposals for the 83 and 84 routes and increased frequency on services including numbers 1, 13, 22, 25, 81, 87 and 95.
Bus companies First, Stagecoach, TM Travel and Sheffield Community Transport have all signed up to the deal.
David Young, SYPTE’s director of customer experience, said the agreement was ‘a new start’ for Sheffield’s bus services.
“We have listened to people and have altered our plans to make sure that when this goes live it will best serve the needs of the travelling public.
“This is the Sheffield people’s bus network, designed in consultation with them, for them. We hope it will persuade more people to make the switch from cars to buses.”