Back Our Buses: 'Diabolical' Sheffield bus service sees woman pay £13 for taxis to get to work on time

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Cheryl Talkes is now paying £13 to travel to work over waiting for her local 'diabolical' bus service.

The stress and anxiety caused by unreliable bus services has led one Sheffield woman to cut her working hours and opt instead for taxis.

It comes just two weeks after The Star launched the ‘Back Our Buses’ campaign with South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard. Together, we are asking the Government for a fair figure of revenue funding for the buses, in line with neighbouring regions.

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Cheryl Talkes, aged 52, has relied on public transport to get to work at the Co-op store in Crookes for the past 18 years. But since bus operator First axed the early 51 service in 2022 due to ‘low demand’, Cheryl has been repeatedly late for her 6am shift.

This month, the bakery assistant, who lives on Gleadless Common, has made the difficult decision to reduce her working week from five days to three due to the “diabolical” bus service, which she claims is the “worst” in Sheffield.

A Sheffield woman has told The Star how she has to pay £13 to get to work on time for her 6am shift.A Sheffield woman has told The Star how she has to pay £13 to get to work on time for her 6am shift.
A Sheffield woman has told The Star how she has to pay £13 to get to work on time for her 6am shift.

She is also now paying £13 - the equivalent of an hour's pay - to get to work via a taxi so she can get there on time.

When using the bus, Cheryl takes the 51 service to Broomhill before getting the 52 service up to Crookes to get to work. But if the 5.49am service is late, she misses her next bus , and is then around 45 minutes late to work.

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Using a different bus service is also not an option for Cheryl as she cannot walk to the next bus stop due to the pain caused by her arthritis.

She said: “I used to get the 5.17am service but the earliest service is now 5.49am which isn’t any good when you have to be at work for 6am on the other side of Sheffield.

"It probably comes on time maybe one in every five times. It’s usually around 10 minutes late, but sometimes it doesn’t turn up at all.

“Being 40 minutes late, it’s amazing the impact it has on your day and on your team. Management has to start my shift for me by putting the ovens on, so they heat up in time, and then I have to stay later to make up the time lost.

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"The reason First said they took the earlier bus off was because people weren’t getting it, but each morning there are students and hospital staff waiting. Around 10 people I used to get on the bus with have all complained. We should be able to rely on our bus services."

In response, Rob Hughes, operations director from First Bus South Yorkshire, said: “We apologise that this customer has experienced a poor service in the past, however we have made significant positive changes in the business over the last 12-months that have improved staffing levels and service delivery.

“I’m pleased to say that our data shows the reliability of the 51 service at 5.49am has been good in recent months, and we expect that to continue.

“Whilst we acknowledge the difficulty that the cancellation of the 5.17am service has caused this customer, we need to match our bus and driver resource with passenger demand, and the demand for the 5.17am service was low.”

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First Bus South Yorkshire is currently gathering online feedback on their bus services in order to increase bus use. Views must be shared before Thursday February 15. To have your say, please click here.

Do you have a story about Sheffield buses? Please share your story if you are 18 or over, anonymously if you wish. Email: [email protected] with your name, phone number and a summary of your experience.

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