Bus and tram operators in South Yorkshire hit back following criticism from Mayor Dan Jarvis

The top bosses of two public transport operators in South Yorkshire have hit back at Mayor Dan Jarvis following his scathing criticism around service cuts and fare hikes.

The mayor penned a letter to both First and Stagecoach and hit out at plans to scale back operations in the county.

The bus and tram chiefs noted that each company had frozen or kept prices lower than the cost of living despite falling revenue during the pandemic and a reduction in central government subsidies overall.

However, both companies received millions in government support through grants during the pandemic to keep operations running.

Martin Griffiths, chief executive of Stagecoach and Nigel Eggleton, managing director of First South Yorkshire, have hit back following criticism from Mayor Dan Jarvis.

First boss Nigel Eggleton said buses in South Yorkshire had not made any profit in 10 years while Martin Griffiths from Stagecoach said Supertram continued to make a loss despite government help during the pandemic.

Nigel Eggleton, managing director at First South Yorkshire said;” It is important for the sustainability and improvement of public transport provision in the city that we work closely with SYPTE, Travelmaster and other stakeholder partners. The decision by ‘Travelmaster’ to revise the multi operator ticket range is an action we support.

“It has been two years since there has been any change to this ticket range and as everyone will be aware, a lot has changed over this time with price increases in retail, utilities, cost of living and taxes.

Services in South Yorkshire have not made a profit for nearly 10 years which needs to change if we are to see further development and improvements to public transport infrastructure, investment in new buses, new technology and better more reliable services in the city and surrounding areas.”Martin Griffiths from Stagecoach chief executive, added: “Current transport taxation policy, insufficient action to address car congestion and a lack of incentives to encourage a change in travel behaviour all continue to put pressure on fares and undermine the viability of bus networks across the country. Additionally, measures taken to address the pandemic continue to impact bus use, which remains below pre-pandemic levels.

“However, it is critical that there is urgent confirmation of government funding beyond the end of March 2022 to avoid a cliff-edge for the country’s bus networks. We appreciate your support and that of other mayors in making that case at national level.”