Bus bosses have pledged to work with councillors who demanded a re-think of planned changes to one of Sheffield’s busiest bus routes after passengers branded the move ‘disastrous’.
The number 52 which calls at stops in Woodhouse, the city centre and Hillsborough is regarded as a main commuter route used by people travelling to work, for parents dropping off their kids at school and students attending the universities.
But Stagecoach bosses confirmed that from Sunday, September 2, the service will no longer run between Crookes and Hillsborough Monday to Saturday.
Passengers have criticised the move, with one branding it as ‘disastrous’, over concerns that the other bus which serves the route – First’s 52a –will not be able to take on the extra load, meaning commuters could be left stranded at stops.
Labour councillors for the area have now written to Stagecoach bosses urging them to keep the 52 running between Crookes and Hillsborough.
But Matt Davies, managing director for Stagecoach Yorkshire, said the changes 'weren't as significant as councillors initially thought' and said the changes would secure the long-term future of the bus network.
Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development at Sheffield Council, said: “This is a bad decision. Good public transport is key for our economy and for our local communities.
“The council spends millions of pounds improving our roads and transport infrastructure.
“Bus providers need to play their part in ensuring that there is an efficient and comprehensive service for communities across the city. I am asking Stagecoach for an urgent meeting to discuss this.”
Walkley councillor Ben Curran described the change as 'outrageous' and added the move 'could lead to more elderly people being cut off and isolated.'
George Lindars-Hammond, councillor for Hillsborough, said: “Residents of Hillsborough are already frustrated by delays to the existing bus services and removing an entire service from serving Hillsborough will make things worse.
“We’re fortunate to have the tram but this must not be at the expense of all other transport links.”
Matt Davies, managing director for Stagecoach Yorkshire, said: “We are, of course, happy to meet Cllr Scott or any of his colleagues to discuss our services and I’ve been in contact with them already.
"Fortunately, the changes which caused concern for Cllr Curran and Cllr Lindars-Hammond are far less significant than they perhaps thought.
“There will remain a First bus every 10 minutes from Crookes to Hillsborough right throughout the day Monday to Saturday and Stagecoach journeys will continue to operate through to Hillsborough in the early mornings, after 6pm at night and all day on a Sunday so we are confident no-one will be left isolated or unable to make journeys that they currently do.
“Hillsborough has benefitted from a combined Stagecoach and First service up to every five minutes during the day, however passenger numbers on the section of the route between Crookes and Hillsborough shows clearly that this part of the route does not require a double decker bus every five minutes.
“Stagecoach will continue to serve Walkley and Crookes throughout the day and residents in Hillsborough will still have access to a First bus every 10 minutes and Supertram.
“We are committed to providing a reliable service for passengers across our network in Sheffield and the extra capacity from the bus saved has been used to help support the new extension of the X17 Stagecoach Gold route which now crosses Sheffield providing new cross-boundary links to leisure and employment opportunities.
“Changes to the bus network from time to time are necessary as customer demand alters and it is right that we move bus resource from areas where demand is falling to those where we believe there are opportunities for growth.
“The change helps to ensure we can secure the long-term future of the bus network, maintain value for money fares and continue to invest in fleet, product range and staff.”
Allan Riggall, head of commercial at First South Yorkshire, said: "The September changes will mean that a five minute service will still remain between Woodhouse and Crookes, and a 10 minute service will still operate between Crookes, Hillsborough and Wisewood.
“A 10 minute service between Hillsborough and Crookes is sufficient for demand.”