Sheffield bus service may be city’s worst, say frustrated passengers

A Sheffield bus service has been branded one of the worst in the city, following a volley of complaints from frustrated passengers.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 15:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 15:45 pm
Becca Faulkner (right) with Graves Park ward councillors Steve Ayris and Ian and Sue Auckland

The number 20 bus between Hemsworth and Ecclesfield, via the city centre, is often late or fails to turn up at all, according to those relying on the service.

But operator First has defended the service, saying ‘overall it performs well’.

Becca Faulkner (right) with Graves Park ward councillors Steve Ayris and Ian and Sue Auckland

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Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Ayris said he and fellow Graves Park ward members had been inundated with complaints about the route since cuts to buses serving the Norton Lees area in 2016.

“There are a lot of elderly people in that area who rely upon the number 20 and we often get complaints about buses not turning up,” he said.

“It’s not been easy for them to catch an alternative service since the 2016 cuts.

Passengers and councillors say the number 20 bus is often late or fails to turn up at all

“It seems to be a sporadic problem which keeps recurring, and we’ve raised the issue on a number of occasions.”

Councillor Ian Auckland, who also represents the ward, said: “There’s a big problem with reliability of the number 20 service, especially at peak times, which isn't good enough,” he said.

“It’s thwarting hardworking people trying to get to and from their jobs.

“First say the disruption is due to roadworks in various parts of the city but if you ask our constituents they will tell you the service has been unreliable for many years.

“The less reliable buses are, the fewer passengers you get and the more likely services are to be cut or cancelled. It’s a vicious circle.”

He claimed reliability across the network had been getting worse since First closed its garage in Rotherham, reducing its capacity to fix faults, which meant more buses were out of service at any one time.

He said bus companies should be forced to display statistics showing the punctuality of each route on board buses and at bus stops.

Becca Faulkner, who lives on the Brindley estate in Norton Lees, claimed passengers were constantly being let down.

“It’s the only direct bus between where I live and the city centre, but it’s so unreliable it must be one of the worst services in the city,” said the 44-year-old.

“I’ve contacted First at least five or six times in the last year, and they say they will investigate but nothing happens.”

Allan Riggall, commercial director at First South Yorkshire, defended the service but said something must be done about congestion in the city.

“It’s surprising to hear that Councillors and local residents are unhappy with service 20, as we have not had any major recent issues with this bus service, other than general incidents that happen across the road networks, but overall the service performs well,” he said.

“The service was impacted by the recent bus lane works on Chesterfield Road. However, these roadworks are now complete.

“With regards to engineering, we have a recruitment programme in place and we have recently appointed a new engineering director to lead the team across the region.

“Tackling congestion continues to be the biggest challenge we face and it’s vital that we continue to address this head-on to drive change, especially in Sheffield.

“This issue can easily be resolved if key influencers in the region work together to make buses more attractive.

“Increased bus priority measures lead to reliable services, which in turn encourage more people to choose bus instead of car, leading to fewer cars on the road.

“Reduced congestion will also enable operators to schedule more effective bus services, thus further increasing the appeal of bus travel, which in turn, can lead to an improved bus service for customers.”