Next stop in bus protest campaign

BUS campaigners are planning a lobby at Sheffield Town Hall tomorrow, as the latest round of cuts to routes takes effect.

First, the county's largest operator, is making a series of service changes from this week across South Yorkshire.

Among services being axed are the number 29 from Rotherham to Beighton, through Treeton, Aston and Crystal Peaks, and service 96 from Sheffield city centre to Beighton, through Manor Top and Crystal Peaks.

But the changes have sparked anger amongst some bus customers. The We Want Our Buses Back campaign is stepping up calls for Sheffield council to take action against First to bring bus services back into public ownership.

Campaigners will present a 7,000 name petition to tomorrow's Full Council meeting at the Town Hall.

Councillors will be lobbied beforehand and campaigners will be joined by samba band Rhythms of Resistance and 'Insurgent Clowns'.

First say the services were axed because of a lack of passengers and added this week's changes also included "a number of network improvements" in Sheffield and Rotherham, including the introduction of a new low-floor route between Sheffield and Treeton. They also include a new network in Foxhill that has been developed with local residents.

But leader of the We Want Our Buses Back campaign Calvin Payne said: "Two months ago the council passed a resolution supporting re-regulation of our buses. What's happened since then?

"First have cut and changed more routes this weekend without any public consultation. Sheffield bus users can't wait four more years to maybe get some control.

"The council has to make a stand now with other Passenger Transport Executives to force the government to change policy."

We Want Our Buses Back campaign is planning a public meeting and a city centre demonstration in the run-up to the local elections in May. They plan to press all candidates standing for the Town Hall to say where they stand on re-regulation and public ownership.

n Passengers have also started a petition against the axing of a park-and-ride service on Abbeydale Road, which will no longer run into the city centre.

The service has been re-routed to run to Broomhill instead rather than the centre of Sheffield, but passengers claim there has been a lack of consultation and have now started up a petition against the move.

Travel bosses say the 505 is the least-used Park and Ride service in the city.

But Lib Dems say while a park-and-ride to Broomhill could help solve parking problems in the area, axing the service into town without consultation is "unacceptable".