The Free Bee is now called Sheffield Connect. If you have not purchased a bus, tram or rail ticket on the day, it costs £1 to travel around the city centre to key destinations like the railway station, the Moor Market, West Street and the Crucible and Lyceum theatres.
Sheffield Green Party city council group leader Coun Douglas Johnson said he travelled on the first bus that ran on the new service.
He said: “Transport is all about connecting people up with where they want to go and I am so pleased to see the FreeBee bus return to the city centre.
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“As executive member for climate change and transport last year, I worked to promote the FreeBee alongside the opportunities arising from opening up Pinstone Street to safer walking and cycling routes.
Sheffield Connect: ‘Makes it easier to get around town’
“The streamlining of existing bus routes – to make them move more quickly through the city centre – was to be helped by a connecting city centre circular bus.
“Good bus connections benefit everyone. The FreeBee bus originally ran from 2007 to 2014 when it was cut by a previous administration.
“Since 2018, Green councillors have been calling for its return, with costed proposals being included in our budget amendments since 2019.
“I am delighted that the bus will be free of charge to anyone who has got the bus or tram into town. This is really important for access, encouragement and bus loading times.”
Green transport campaigner Thomas Atkin added: “The Sheffield Connect is great news for Sheffield city centre.
As a disabled person and as a carer, having the Sheffield Connect means no more having to get on certain buses because they drop me near the station. It makes it easier to get around town whichever direction you come from.
“It will give people with disabilities greater access to the city centre than previously. Sheffield Connect is the gateway to our city centre for people arriving fresh faced at the station, for students of all ages and for people who have lived here all their lives.”
‘This service will be a huge asset to the city’
The service is being run by South Pennines Community Transport. Funding is in place from the Department for Transport to use electric buses on the route in future.
The new service was also welcomed by council leader Coun Terry Fox.
He said: “This service will be a huge asset to the city. I know it’s something our city centre businesses and the public have been waiting for and I’m really pleased to say it’s here.
“With the cost of living crisis and well-publicised issues with public transport, we’re taking action into our own hands, putting Sheffield first to provide much-needed transport for those who really need it.
“Access in and around the city will be much easier. We’ve ensured the bus is fully accessible with priority disabled seating at the front and the service has been designed with air quality and Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in mind.”