Better buses: Bus company speaks out about services

A major bus operator says it has made ‘significant improvements and invested millions of pounds’ in services.

Monday, 23rd September 2019, 4:53 pm
Updated Saturday, 28th September 2019, 4:17 am
Matt Davies, managing director of Stagecoach Yorkshire

Stagecoach has taken part in a public consultation commissioned by Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis following a flurry of complaints about poor services and routes being changed and cancelled.

The consultation was due to finish at the end of this month but the deadline has now been extended to October 18. It’s available at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MCVNLH6

Stagecoach says operators and councils need to work together more to make improvements.

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Matt Davies, managing director for Stagecoach Yorkshire, said: “We have delivered significant improvements to South Yorkshire’s bus network and invested millions of pounds to make travel easier and better value for customers.

“Bus operators, central government and local authorities all have a shared responsibility to deliver high quality bus services.

“There is now a real and urgent need to focus on practical measures that will improve journeys to stop the decline in bus journeys that we have seen as a result of social changes and the rise in car usage.

“That’s why we’re calling for a partnership approach to enable us to tackle the major issues such as congestion.

“This will help to deliver faster and more reliable journeys as well as a range of other benefits including cleaner buses, simplified ticketing and better information in order to attract more people to buses.

“We have a great immediate opportunity here to use the experience of our successful bus partnership approach in South Yorkshire by working together to address the practical issues that matter.”

Stagecoach says it wants to build on the Sheffield Bus Partnership, a voluntary agreement made up of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Sheffield Council, First South Yorkshire, Stagecoach, TM Travel and Sheffield Community Transport.

Mr Davies said: “Since its introduction in 2012, the Sheffield Bus Partnership has delivered millions of pounds of improvements with £40m joint operator investment in 194 new buses, £18m investment in bus infrastructure improving journey times, integrated smartcard ticketing, contactless payments and online payment and the cheapest multi-operator bus prices in the country.

“This has resulted in an increase of a million customer journeys and customer satisfaction rising to 87 per cent.”

But there has been criticism of the Bus Partnership. The Liberal Democrats want it to be scrapped and replaced with a statutory bus quality contract” while Sheffield Green Party said it was “failing”

Coun Bob Johnson, Cabinet member for transport, says pulling out of the Partnership “is not entirely the right thing to do” but he has introduced a new bus charter.

He said: “We never maintained that the bus partnership was perfect but at that time, when we signed it back in 2012, it was the only way that we could improve the interconnecting services between our cities but some of the companies are just not delivering.”