Sheffield buses: Protest outside mayor Dan Jarvis’ Sheffield office demands re-regulation of bus services

Campaigners demanding Sheffield region Mayor Dan Jarvis re-regulates South Yorkshire’s buses gathered in Sheffield to lobby him and council leaders.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 8:21 am

Groups including Campaign for Better Buses for South Yorkshire and South Yorkshire Green New Deal gathered with banners outside the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Combined Authority (SYMCA) office, previously called Sheffield City Region, on Broad Street West, to call for changes yesterday.

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South Yorkshire’s four council leaders and Martin Jarvis were meeting in the building.

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Protesters outside mayor Dan Jarvis's office called for re-regulation of South Yorkshire's buses

Campaign for Better Buses South Yorkshire wants Mr Jarvis to take back control of privately-run bus services to tempt people out of their cars.

Fran Postlethwaite, convenor for Campaign for Better Buses for South Yorkshire, said: “Dan Jarvis as the major of South Yorkshire has the power to bring back public control of our buses through franchising – that’s what Andy Burnham’s done in Manchester.

“And we need public control because at the moment, the private companies rule the roost and under their power, we’ve got fewer buses, less reliable and too expensive, and not going where people want to go. So a major part of our campaign is saying ‘we want public control’, which means that the authority can make those sorts of decisions on behalf of the people of South Yorkshire.

“The other thing we’re arguing for is proper consultation with passengers, because they’re not talking to us about what passengers actually need. We’re getting messages every day about how the bus services are failing people and we need to use those messages to make sure that we have a bus service that is fit for purpose.”

Group member Martin Mayer added: “If we are to get to net zero in South Yorkshire we need a radical shake-up of our appalling public transport, but the recent Bus Service Improvement Plan has rejected the Government’s offer to take back control via franchising.

“We have the opportunity to take buses back under public control and it’s just just so frustrating. The bus service improvement plan, long awaited, came out last month, and it fails to promise re-regulation of the buses.”

First and Stagecoach

The improvement plan has support from operators First and Stagecoach.

He said re-arranging services could help bring people out of their cars and give the chance to co-ordinate the services in the city.

SYMCA has been approached for comment.

Nigel Eggleton, managing director of First Sheffield, which runs 235 buses, is opposed to re-regulation and said last month he believes talk of public control fails to address the root cause of the problem.

He said: “Franchising is incredibly expensive, slow to implement and will fail to deliver on its promises. Nationalisation has huge costs, huge inefficiency and an unwillingness to deal with changes in the market. I hear these demands with some frustration at the lack of understanding.

“Local authorities must be prepared to discriminate against the private car.”

He said London was often held up as an example of a popular public transport system discriminates against motorists with its £15-a-day congestion charge, ultra low emission zone and Controlled Parking Zones where residents pay an annual fee.

He says more priority lanes and lights would be a big help in Sheffield, as well as contactless tickets and ‘integrated’ fares valid across networks.

Local journalism holds the powerful to account and gives people a voice. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper. Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor