‘Franchising has failed us all’ – South Yorkshire Freedom Riders propose ‘zero fare’ bus service

Transport campaigners in South Yorkshire are calling for the region to be given a completely free bus service.

By Dan Hayes
Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 5:52 pm
Updated Monday, 27th May 2019, 6:43 pm

The South Yorkshire Freedom Riders will next month present proposals to Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis to create a ‘zero fares’ policy across the entire region.

The mayor is currently seeking people’s views on bus travel in the region as part of a major ‘bus review’ chaired by Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts.

However, the campaigners say a completely free service is the only way to ensure we meet the challenges of climate change, boost the economy, reduce pollution, put money back into people’s pockets and improve their health.

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They said: “Franchising has failed us all and a publicly owned, publicly run and funded bus service is the only way services can be extended, made reliable and improved for the benefit of the population, the environment, local economies, personal finances and personal health.

“It's essential that we have an intelligent, joined up policy which isn't seen in isolation as a ‘transport’ issue but part of a wide range of changes to benefit us all.

“Large areas are now badly served by poor bus services - if they have a bus service at all.

“The only alternative people are left with is a car which many find expensive to run. Many have services which finish after 6pm and don't run on Sundays.”

The group also point out that the idea is not new and a free bus service was something that was almost achieved in the region in the 1970s and early 80s.

“South Yorkshire had a cheap fares scheme which would allow all buses to be zero fares by 1984,” they added.

“Scottish Labour has recently announced it wants all buses in Scotland to be free to use.

“Let's build on the vision of the Labour Party of 45 years ago and the modern Scottish Labour movement.”

The South Yorkshire Freedom Riders first came to prominence in 2014 when they campaigned against cuts to free bus travel for elderly and disabled people.

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis’ bus review will be formally launched tomorrow.