Sheffield bus: Campaigners welcome decision on public control, but raise concerns over leaders commitments

Bus campaigners have welcomed the decision by the local leaders to approve an assessment of a bus network transformation that could see greater public control in South Yorkshire but warned that the process is not yet complete.

Saturday, 5th March 2022, 2:20 pm

Earlier today (March 4), Mayor Dan Jarvis and local leaders gave a green light to assess a bus franchising model in the county which would bring regulation of routes, frequencies, fares, and tickets under local control, could help efforts to transform the region’s transport.

The South Yorkshire mayor, who described the decision as ‘a big day for our region’, said the the assessment would allow them test that case and create the foundation to move to franchising.

Campaigners have long called for buses across South Yorkshire to be franchised, so decisions about routes, timetables, and prices are ‘made in the interests of the public, not shareholders’.

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Over 40 people attended the last Better Buses protest in January outside the Mayoral Combined Authority. Credit: Better Buses for South Yorkshire.

Matthew Topham, Campaigner at Better Buses for South Yorkshire, said: "Today's decision could be the start of something transformational.

"Bringing buses into public control unlocks new opportunities for our services that are illegal with private companies in control."

"We can remove the complex and competing fares of the different companies. We can cross-subsidise quieter routes with the profits from busy corridors. And we can ensure that buses, trams, and trains all align."

"But we're not over the line yet. The local leaders have been forced into this decision by the manifesto commitment on public control from Labour Mayoral candidate, Oliver Coppard, and our continued campaign.

“As soon as they can, they'll kick this essential change into the long grass.

"We've got a plan to hold them to account. Join the campaign for a bus network that puts people and planet over profit."

The assessment of bus franchising follows plans to develop an Enhanced Partnership in response to the government’s National Bus Strategy (Bus Back Better).

The legally binding agreement between SYMCA and local bus operators includes proposals for free travel for under 18s and capped fares for all passengers, bus priority measures to make journeys quicker, better journey planning information, ‘turn up and go’ bus options, and zero emission buses to make travel cleaner and greener towards a net-zero future.

Sheffield’s bus companies, First and Stagecoach have previously backed the region’s bus service improvement plan.

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South Yorkshire leaders give green light to assess bus franchising model that gi...