Sheffield bus firm slammed after blaming ‘online shopping’ for falling passenger numbers 

Sheffield bus
Sheffield bus

A councillor for Graves Park has accused the Sheffield Bus partnership of ‘making excuses’ as it has claimed in a report that falling passenger numbers are down to changes in: employment patterns, reduced need to travel and an increase in online shopping.

In the past three years passenger numbers on Sheffield Buses have dropped by around 6 million, from 56 million in 2015, to 50 million in 2018.

Councillor Ian Auckland said this decline is purely down to service cuts and the lack of services available to the general public.

He said: “I don’t buy into the idea that passenger numbers are falling because of increased shopping online.

“The reason why passenger numbers have fallen is because of service cuts, those other reasons given (in the report) are an excuse.

“The central purpose of the partnership was to increase passenger numbers and we have to get more people onto public transport, which inevitably is a bus.

“The fact is, Sheffield has fewer buses to choose from and if that isn’t the reason for there being fewer passengers, I don’t know what is.”

The punctuality of the Sheffield Bus Partnership has also been in decline.

In 2015, 87% of buses were on time, however, three years on this has gone down to 84%.

The South Yorkshire Public Transport Executive have re-affirmed that their reasons as to why passenger numbers have dropped, are the correct ones.

Ben Gilligan, executive director of public transport for the SYPTE, said: “Bus use has been on a downward trend nationally since 2008/09, including more recently in London.

“This is due to a number of factors that also apply to South Yorkshire and Sheffield.

“Congestion in urban areas and city centres has affected bus performance, leading to a downfall in passengers due to extended journey times.

“A recent growth in online shopping may also have led to a fall in people using buses for shopping trips.

“Data from the National Travel Survey shows that there were 13 shopping trips per person, per year, on local buses in England in 2016, down from 19 per person, per year, in 2010.”

The SYPTE have also said that car ownership may be a contributing factor to decline in passenger numbers.

The transport body, states that according to the National Travel Survey, 77% of households in England owned at least one car or van in 2016, which they believe to be a very high figure.

The report will be presented at the Economic and Environmental Wellbeing Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee on Wednesday 24 October.