Almost half of Rotherham bus users say services are 'very unreliable'

Rotherham bus users have stated their frustrations about 'unreliable' services and long wait times during a survey run by the town's MP.

Friday, 26th June 2020, 10:25 am
Updated Friday, 26th June 2020, 10:26 am

Sarah Champion, Member of Parliament for Rotherham, conducted a survey of bus users which received more than two thousand responses, revealing an overwhelmingly negative view of Rotherham’s existing bus service.

Ms Champion said that the survey clearly highlighted "frustration and anger" among Rotherham bus users, and brought to light "substantial" issues with bus operator First.

Ms Champion said: "The response was overwhelming and just went to show the huge frustration and anger people in Rotherham felt about the decline in their bus service.

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Sarah Champion MP

"From punctuality to bus routes, across the board the responses were damning.”

The survey highlighted substantial issues with First, which operates many of Rotherham’s bus services.

Ms Champion met with both the chief executive of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and the managing director of First to discuss the findings and measures needed to improve services across the Borough.

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The findings of the survey were then fed into a wider review of bus services conducted by Clive Betts MP for Dan Jarvis, Mayor of Sheffield City Region, which recently published a report into services across South Yorkshire.

"The conclusions of the Sheffield City Region Bus Report echo my own findings," added Ms Champion.

"Sadly, they both reveal a dysfunctional bus system, that needs urgent work to deliver for the people of Rotherham. I am hopeful that the changes the Mayor has outlined will go some way to delivering the improvements that are so badly needed and I will be supporting his efforts in any way that I can.’

The Independent Bus Review, which launched in 2019, aimed to carry out a comprehensive assessment of bus services in Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield.

The report concluded that South Yorkshire bus services are not fit for the 21st century, finding that funding has fallen by 48 per cent in the last decade, while journeys have fallen by 23 million in the same period.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the Budget the Sheffield City Region will receive £166 million in Transforming Cities Fund money.

Mayor Dan Jarvis welcomed the investment and said central government had also ‘indicated support’ for Supertram renewal which is up in 2024.

The TCF cash will be used for a number of transport and infrastructure schemes including proposals for the AMID corridor which connects Sheffield and Rotherham.

However, the survey highlights the fact that passengers will not feel the effects of this funding for some time.

A survey of bus users in Rotherham alone attracted 1,466 comments, many citing the 'unrelaibility' of services, with some reporting missing buses, long waits, delayed services, and long routes.

Out of 1,996 respondents, almost 50 percent said that bus services in Rotherham are 'very unreliable', with only seven percent calling the services reliable.

One comment stated: "Rotherham's bus service has some serious and long term problems.

"The fares are extortionate, particularly compared to elsewhere in the country.

"Paying £3 for a single one-way ticket to travel a ten minute distance is unacceptable. In addition to this, the buses are usually late, often not showing up at all, which leaves people stranded in the cold wet weather for a large proportion of the year.

Another commenter added: "Sometimes buses don’t turn up at all.

"It is very stressful going to catch a bus and worrying if it will turn up or not especially if you have an appointment.

"We are being encouraged to use public transport more often but it is off putting when the service is unreliable."

Nigel Eggleton, managing director of First South Yorkshire and Midlands, said they are "committed" to providing customers with a bus service they can rely on, and that work is being undertaken to improve First's fleet.

Mr Eggleton said: “We acknowledge the response to this survey and fully recognise the frustrations our customers in Rotherham have faced with services not running as efficiently and reliably as they should.

“Since the survey was conducted, the pandemic has dramatically reduced bus travel in recent months but this hasn’t slowed our determination to rejuvenate our fleet and overcome engineering difficulties. This has enabled buses to be returned to service more efficiently and quickly.

“The fleet has been improved by replacing ageing vehicles which has enhanced overall performance, operating consistency and durability, so minimising the need for repairs and time off the road.

“These actions are now showing through in improvements to services, but we fully appreciate there is more to do. Our customers have stood by us and we are committed to repay their loyalty by giving them a bus service they can rely on every day of the week.

“Separately, the Bus Review is a welcome opportunity to strengthen our bus system overall and we look forward to working together with our partners to deliver sustainable improvements in reliability and connectivity through an integrated approach.”

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