Bus journeys in South Yorkshire down 25% in five years as people discouraged by Covid-19

Fewer bus journeys are made in South Yorkshire than five years ago, as service coverage in the area is squeezed.

Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 12:30 pm

The Department for Transport says more can be done to tackle a nationwide downward trend in bus use.

In South Yorkshire, 80.9 million bus passenger journeys were made in 2019-20 – down from 108 million in 2014-15, the DfT's annual bus statistics show.

This means the average resident took 4.8 local bus journeys a month in the local authority last year, compared to 6.6 in 2014-15 .

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People have been discouraged from taking bus journeys because of coronavirus

Over the same period, the number of miles clocked by local buses in the area fell, from 39.5 million in 2014-15 to 33.5 million in 2018-19.

Across England, there were 4.1 billion bus journeys taken in 2019-20, down six per cent from 2018-19 and 12 per cent from 2014-15.

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At the same time bus fares have increased more than the rate of inflation, and were up 2.5 per cent from 2018-19 last year.

The DfT says the number of bus journeys in 2019-20 was impacted by Covid-19 with restrictions imposed on March 23 and people discouraged from taking public transport. But a spokeswoman added the five-year downward trend did show there was "more that can be done to deliver reliable and regular bus services for both new and existing passengers".

In South Yorkshire, watchdog group Transport Focus carried out survey of bus users at the end of last year. It found 89 per cent of users were satisfied with bus services, including 72 per cent who were satisfied with punctuality and price.

The Campaign for Better Transport, a pressure group, said the annual bus statistics show "how bus cuts and rising fares were hitting communities hard, long before the pandemic".

Head of media Alice Ridley said: "Travelling by public transport must be affordable and convenient to avoid car journeys escalating and non-drivers being excluded."

The Government is drawing up a National Bus Strategy aimed at laying a platform for working with councils and private operators to improve services. The DfT spokeswoman said: “This will build on our investment, which includes more than £900 million of emergency funding to keep buses moving throughout the pandemic."

Sheffield City Region was approached for a comment.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.