The Sheffield places you would like to see Supertram serve as expansion is proposed
They may have seen the passenger numbers fall.
But there is still enthusiasm among Sheffield residents for the city’s 25-year-old tram system – and following the introduction of the tram-train service there are hopes that it will only get bigger.
Government figures released this summer have shown tram use plunge as the pandemic shut down parts of the city at times.
Figures for the year ending in March showed 2.8 million journeys taken by passengers on the system, representing a 73.1 per cent fall on the year ending in March 2020.
In 2018-19 there had been 11.9 journeys, itself a three per cent drop on the year before.
But despite the fall in use due to the pandemic, official Government statistics show people are happy with the trams.
The statistics for 2019, the most recent available, rated the service as 96 per cent for overall journey satisfaction, which compared to 87 per cent for the Manchester Metrolink, and 76 per cent for value for money, compared to the Manchester service’s 59 per cent.
Proposals have been made to extend the system further, with the tram-train pilot scheme having already taken the service into Rotherham, and consultation having recently closed on taking it to a new site near the Magna Centre in Rotherham.
There have also been suggestions to extend to Doncaster Sheffield Airport and into Beighton, Stocksbridge, Heeley, Millhouses, Totley, Chapeltown, Woodhouse and Handsworth, using existing rail routes.
Places like Meadowhead and other stops along the A61 Chesterfield Road have been suggested for a later expansion plan.
With a stop already added in Tinsley, ambition to extend the network further remains – but it could still be some time off, according to regional transport bosses.
Future ambition for tram expansion
A spokesperson for the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA), said: “Supertram has connected people to jobs, education and leisure for over 25 years. It’s iconic to South Yorkshire, an asset for the region, and it’s a vital part of our public transport network.
“The successful Tram Train pilot has proved the system can be extended and work is already underway to build on that, with the addition of a new stop in Tinsley as well as a Parkgate Park and Ride.
“Supertram is the only zero-emissions public transport system in South Yorkshire and has the potential to take thousands of cars off the roads. So, the future ambition is absolutely to connect as many communities as possible, through expansion to more places, opportunities and services, as part of an integrated solution with other sustainable transport modes.
“That ambition is detailed in the SYMCA Integrated Rail Plan. But Supertram is fast reaching the end of its working life. The MCA’s priority is getting the Government funding we critically need to renew the network, vehicles and infrastructure so the current system can continue to run.”
South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis said earlier this year that securing the 27-year-old system’s future should take priority over expansion, as the existing network needs major investment to replace worn-out vehicles and equipment.
Previous extension proposals included Northern General Hospital and Hallamshire
But tram expansion plans have been proposed before. As long ago as 2003, Sheffield Council was discussing extending the network to include services to places including Dore and Ranmoor, as well as the university and the Hallamshire and Northern General Hospital. But the amount of money that would have to be found locally was at the time seen as too high, and it did not happen.
Sheffield residents have their own views on where they think the trams should take them in future.
Thomas Webb, of Batemoor, said: “I would like to see them going to Stocksbridge. I’m from Batemoor, and I have to catch the tram and bus to Middlewood to go to see my mum. I think they should go to more places.”
Tracey Chapman, of Gleadless, said: “I don’t really use the tram that much, but I guess potentially the hospitals would be a good place for them to go. If I needed to go I would use the trams if the went there.”
Roland Onyimo, of Broomhill, said: I think the service right now is fantastic – I’m happy with the routes right now. It’s a pretty good service.
For possible routes he said: “Definitely the children's hospital, going closer to the children’s hospital, possibly for the students going towards Broomhill and places like that as the students tend to end up walking. That would be quite helpful. And the Northern General would be excellent.”
Susan Wilson, of Heeley, wanted to see a service for the south side of the city.
She said: “Places like Meadowhead and Woodseats that have not got anything at the present, but are hugely populated. I would like to see them finding a way to do that.”
Wendy Bothamley, from Walkley, also wanted a service to the hospitals. She said: “I would like it to go to the Hallamshire Hospital because of the parking situation. It is a nightmare trying to park there. There’s the children’s hospital and the dental hospital there too.”
Asked where she would like to see the trams go, Lynda Whiteley, of Stannington, said: “To both the main hospitals the Hallamshire and the Northern General would be very good. Not everyone has got a car and it would help with congestion.”
She said it would definitely help with the parking situation.
Janet Curtis, of Gleadless, said she thought the trams were a good service. She added: “I think they should go to the hospitals – the Northern General. A lot of people go there and it’s hard to park if you take your car. I think that would be top of my list.”
Norman Eyre, of Dinnington, said: “I come from Dinnington and I think they should go further out towards Dinnington. We have a terrible bus service and the tram would be ideal. It goes to Halfway. There’s an old railway line that’s hardly ever used. There's a station just outside Dinnington - there’s no reason why the tram train couldn’t serve that route.”
Goverment pledged cash for transport
The Government says it has given South Yorkshire cash for transport, including £18 million for additional park and ride provision and improved connectivity with the Supertram network, and it will be up to local officials how they spend it.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We are investing £4.2bn to improve city transport networks across England – on top of £166 million specifically for transport infrastructure in South Yorkshire.”