Council leader Terry Fox slams Sheffield's 'broken' public transport system 'in dire need of repair'
I’ll always tell it to Star readers straight – I’m not going to sugar coat anything – and quite frankly Sheffield’s public transport isn’t good enough.
We have a broken system in dire need of repair.
Many people think the council runs bus and tram services, but in reality the council have had very little control since the Tories’ deregulated buses in the 1980s.
But there are options available and Labour councillors are calling on the South Yorkshire Mayor to explore the financial implications of franchising our buses – so local people can decide the routes, timetables and fares, rather than profit driven bus companies.
We’ve called for greater public ownership for many years and next year the region will elect a new South Yorkshire Mayor – and we will push whoever that is to give Sheffielders a transport service to be proud of.
It’s blindly obvious that we need buses to go where people actually want them to go! Franchising will help get better control over the routes, but the council has a role to play too – in ensuing the road infrastructure supports the bus network.
That is why I proposed the idea of looking again at opening up Pinstone street to electric buses, rather than the current situation where the stop has moved a quarter of a mile away, and to the bottom of a hill, which is causing such distress for disabled bus users.
The city’s buses have been struggling over recent years, but in some parts of the city the tram network has helped plugged these gaps – but that too is now coming under sustained pressure. Shockingly, First have just announced they are reducing their timetable.
Sheffield Council has worked tirelessly alongside our regional partners to get the government to cough-up £100m for the Supertram network, and we are steadfast in our commitment to the network – but we need providers to step up and deliver a service that meets the city’s needs. What’s the point of all this investment if people can’t actually get a tram when they need?
I held an emergency meeting with the Mayor, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, First and Stagecoach to really push home the level of anger and disappointment felt out there. As part of these discussions we got guarantees that all routes will still be served.
We need to see the bus and tram operators plan for fixing this. We will do whatever we can to the support them, and we understand the pressure they’re under, but they need to up-their-game and get on top of this – quickly.
It’s been one blow after another recently – with government cancelling plans for HS2 coming to Sheffield – depriving the city of millions of pounds extra for the local economy. At the time I called this a ‘kick between the legs’ and I’m no less angry about it now.
But I remain optimistic about what is possible. Since becoming leader I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want our council to put Sheffield first, and we’ll continue fighting for the public transport our city desperately needs.