Letter: Franchising the only viable way for buses

Sheffield busesSheffield buses
Sheffield buses
Rhis letter sent to the Star was written by Roy Morris, Sheffield, S10

Free public transport would be of huge benefit to the people of South Yorkshire as proposed by the Freedom Riders in Friday,  May 31, Star. 

The French city, Dunkerque made their buses free in September 2018 and four months later bus use had gone up by 50%, (120% at weekends!).

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As a result, Dunkerque has less congestion, faster journeys and lower air pollution and the less well off have got their mobility back.

However, the Freedom Riders are wrong to blame "franchising" for the worsening bus service in South Yorkshire.

The scheme in our region is a "quality partnership" where the bus service is determined largely by the bus companies who decide on routes, frequency and price and give priority to profitable routes and neglect less used ones. 

"Franchising" is the scheme they have in London where the routes, frequency and price are decided by the public authority and the bus companies have to bid for contracts.

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From 1986 to 2016, use of buses in South Yorkshire halved, whereas on the publicly-managed London buses, use of the service doubled.

Free buses would bring huge improvements to the quality of life in our region.

But initially, such a scheme would need massive public investment of the sort we can only dream of in the UK at present.

Franchising is currently the only viable improvement: Sheffield City Region mayor, Dan Jarvis must use the powers at his disposal to introduce a franchised bus service.

Otherwise, our unreliable and expensive bus service will continue in its downward spiral.

To support the campaign for better buses in South Yorkshire, sign the online petition: bit.ly/savesybus