‘Someday my bus will come’: Passengers rally for reliability outside South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority office
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They held placards that read “work for us, not profits” and sang “someday my bus will come, someday I’ll find my bus” to the tune of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Speakers shared stories about how declining standards impacted their lives.
Matthew Topham, of Better Buses for South Yorkshire, said: “We have heard today from people who work in the bus industry who see a number of things from reliability itself that would help.
“One, a big crisis is happening with our drivers. If you haven’t got enough drivers being recruited and retained because of poor pay and conditions, you haven’t got enough to deliver a reliable service. So what we can do is drive up conditions and pay by bringing the services into public control.
“Similarly, the timetables are being chopped away to try to increase company profit. We can set realistic, reliable timetables when they are back under public control.”
He said Dan Jarvis, previous mayor of South Yorkshire, “dragged his heels” on the issue but Oliver Coppard, current mayor, had made steps to bring buses and trams back into public control.
“It’s really positive movement but we know we have to keep the pressure up,” Mr Topham said. “We know some of the other council leaders still need persuading and we need to increase public awareness about the benefits of public control so when it comes to the final hurdle of a three month consultation, everyone is ready to say with one loud voice: South Yorkshire wants better buses under public control.”
Bringing services back under public control would give South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) power to improve routes, fares, timetables and working conditions.
SYMCA is currently considering whether a bus franchising scheme in the county would improve transport.
In Reading, the Borough Council owns local buses and saw an almost 40 per cent increase over six years before Covid-19 and now has the highest bus use in England outside London, according to the Department for Transport.