SUPERTRAM bosses have hailed the latest passenger figures which show the Sheffield transport system is outperforming similar schemes across the country.
Although passenger journey numbers in Sheffield were unchanged year on year at 15 million - systems in Nottingham and Newcastle saw their number of journeys fall,
Journeys on Nottingham trams fell nearly 8 per cent, from 9.7 million to 9 million, while those on the Tyne & Wear Metro dropped 5 per cent, from 39.9 million to 37.9 million.
Blackpool Tramway, much of which has been closed for refurbishment in recent months, saw its number of journeys drop 45 per cent, from 1.6 million to 1.1 million.
Midland Metro, which links Birmingham to Wolverhampton, reported a rise of 2 per cent in passenger journeys, from 4.8 million to 4.9 million.
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach Supertram said: “We are continuing to attract millions of people on to our services ever year.
“We carry more than 44,000 passengers every day and have increased patronage on the network by 60 per cent since we began operating the system in 1997.
“Under our management, the Supertram network has been transformed from a heavily loss-making operation to a highly-efficient and financially-sound business.”
According to the Department for Transport figures, the 18-mile Supertram network, which links Meadowhall, Middlewood and Halfway with Sheffield city centre, raked in £15.4 million for the 2011/12 financial year, a fall of £200,000 from the previous 12 months.
Of the UK’s eight light rail and tram systems, both Croydon Tramlink and the Docklands Light Railway, in London, as well as Manchester Metrolink, reported rises in journeys and revenue, although the DLR and the Manchester system have both enjoyed significant network expansion.
Supertram’s services are set to expand after it was chosen to operate the new Tram Train pilot linking Sheffield and Rotherham from 2015.
The £58m scheme will see new Tram Train vehicles operate on the Supertram network and part of the national rail network, linking Rotherham’s Parkgate Retail Park and Sheffield city centre.
Margaret Kay, Supertram managing director, said: “We have a strong track record of providing high-quality, good-value services to the people of Sheffield and are excited at the prospect of being able to expand our services even further.”