Campaign group rubbish South Yorkshire bus improvement consulation and call on Mayor Jarvis to start public control of services

Campaigners have rubbished plans set out by Mayor Dan Jarvis on bus reform and called for him to bring them into public control as soon as possible.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 4:09 pm

A public consultation has launched to seek views on plans to change bus services in South Yorkshire to move to a ‘Enhanced Partnership’ model.

The model moves away from the current system and is a legal partnership between the SYCA, council’s and bus operators, that sets out how they will work together to carry out improvements.

But campaigners say the steps don’t go far enough and want the South Yorkshire mayor to start the process of bringing buses into public control.

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Dan Jarvis.

But the mayor hit back and said entering into an Enhanced Partnership was needed to unlock millions of pounds set out by the Department for Transport in the government’s ‘Bus Back Better’ programme.

Mayor Jarvis added that the combined authority which makes up the four South Yorkshire councils will decide in due course whether to carry out an assessment into a bus franchise for the region.

The model means some operational decisions like service changes, are taken in consultation between operators, councils SYCA, as well as the public where appropriate.

The Enhanced Partnership will be supported by new governance arrangements that include wider passenger representation and a commitment to hold all parties to account for delivery.

But campaigners from Better Buses South Yorkshire, said: ”The consultation is little more than a tick box exercise. Rather than heading our calls for serious public engagement, the Combined Authority has opted for a long, and frankly dull, online form, which will exclude many bus users.

“Why? Because they have made up their minds — they want to set up an enhanced partnership, an arrangement that leaves private companies in charge of routes, prices, and timetables, with the public picking up the tab.

“We are calling on South Yorkshire residents to respond to the consultation, asking for the Mayor to deliver on his election pledge and concentrate on bringing buses into public control, so they work for passengers, not just for profit.”

Mayor Jarvis said: “Our bus improvement plans are about taking decisive action – now – to unlock the vital funds we need to tackle the most pressing issues facing passengers, deliver better services and rebuild our public transport system in the aftermath of COVID.

“The Enhanced Partnership is a vital first step in achieving this, whatever we decide about the structure of those services in the future, including franchising. The MCA is due to decide shortly whether to undertake an assessment of a proposed franchising scheme.

“Not only does the Enhanced Partnership Plan and Scheme require consultation by law, it also allows the public to put forward their views and help to inform our decisions on how to transform bus services in South Yorkshire.

“I urge all passengers to have their say, which is why the consultation can be accessed via the online form or by picking up a paper copy from any bus interchange in the region.”

The consultation can be found here survey.alchemer.eu/s3/90413980/South-Yorkshire-Enhanced-Partnership-Consultation