‘Begin bus franchising within 100 days’ – Unions calls on new South Yorkshire mayor to act fast on buses

Unions have urged the next South Yorkshire mayor to commit to investigating bringing buses back into public control in their first 100 days in office.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 25th April 2022, 4:19 pm

The call comes as trade unions from across Yorkshire and the Humber met in Hull for the region’s TUC Annual Regional Conference.

The vote in favour of the 100 day pledge was passed unanimously following a similar vote in 2021 which led Tracy Brabin, the new mayor of West Yorkshire, to begin the bus franchising process just 50 days after she was elected.

Delegates said the private model in South Yorkshire ‘has failed’ and it was now time to ‘act for people, not profit’.

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Unions have called on all South Yorkshire mayoral candidates to commit to beginning the statutory investigation into public control of the region’s buses within 100 days of taking office, if elected.

Outgoing Labour mayor Dan Jarvis and the four South Yorkshire council leaders issued a statement of intent earlier this year to look into the ways and means of starting a bus franchise system across the region.

This would give the mayor and the combined authority control of the network while giving it the ability to set prices and introduce simpler ticketing systems.

Union delegates representing bus drivers, transport workers, NHS staff and passengers across South Yorkshire took part in the vote.

TUC Better Buses campaigner Gareth Forest said: “Unions have spoken with one voice today. Our demands are clear – it is high time we took South Yorkshire’s buses back into public control.

“We’ve had a bus review, we’ve had an informal assessment from the South Yorkshire Combined Authority. Bus drivers and passengers need a decision, and they need it fast.

“The new mayor could kick off their term by taking bold action on the most pressing issue this region faces – our crumbling transport infrastructure.

“Trade unions are looking forward to working closely with the new mayor on fixing our transport crisis.

“The private model has failed. Now is the time to act for people, not profit.”

A document published by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority shows from start to finish, bringing in a bus franchise to the region would take three and a half years to fully implement.

Bus operators welcomed a previous review into services, but said franchising or a publicly-owned system is an ‘unnecessary diversion’ and won’t make the system ‘more attractive’.