Editor: Expensive, unreliable public transport isn’t up to much

Our public transport isn’t up to much, is it?It is a pretty depressing conversation in any city as we face a climate crisis but it is more painful in Sheffield than most as we used to have the best service in the world.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 6:42 am
Trams run along Attercliffe Road, Sheffield, in the 1950s

I don’t know anybody who grew up in Sheffield when bus services were at their peak who doesn’t still talk about those days with a smile. And there is no amount of head shaking and muttering about Sheffielders being stuck in the past that will make that change, because we know the value of what was taken from us. We also know the heavy price our city is paying because that gem was not protected.

There is a way our leaders could consign that conversation to the past though – give us the public transport which we demand and deserve.

I was sitting listening to somebody from Birmingham yesterday as she enthused about plans to extend trams in her city – they’ll even be fully accessible, she delighted in telling me.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I would have been more happy for her – and places like Nottingham with their sparkling, newish trams – if only Sheffield could get its act together, like it once did.

There are few things that get under the skin of Sheffielders like travel and transport, which is why it is the focus of our special investigations by David Kessen and David Walsh this week.

I’m writing this on a train on the way back from an event in London. Both trains, there and back, were slightly delayed but then I hadn’t expected anything different. When I get off in Sheffield, there is no tram which will take me anywhere near my neighbourhood, my children’s schools, the hospitals or, indeed, many useful places at all.

The buses are expensive, unreliable and all too often dirty.

So we Sheffielders jump in our cars because they are also – and perhaps this is the bitterest twist – the cheapest form of travel for most journeys.

I appreciate that the Steel City proudly maintaining its Red Wall at the last election definitely hasn’t left us at the top of the government’s spending list but then again, we haven’t even grabbed hold of the potential improvements on offer to all elected mayors, have we?

It isn’t even easy to work out who to blame or where it went wrong but, even as we try to look forward with fuels costs rising and the earth’s temperate soaring, we need to hear better plans and more shouting from the leaders of this city and region.