In 2018, during his campaign to become mayor of the Sheffield City Region (SCR), Dan Jarvis stated his intention to ‘work with local authorities to take bus provision back into public ownership’. Three years on, we are light years away from that promise. We aren’t holding him to his pledge to actually take our bus services into public ownership, just asking him to take greater control over the routes, prices and frequencies by ‘franchising’, similar to the set-up in London.
Instead, he is introducing a much more vague ‘Enhanced Partnership’, of which no-one really knows the exact meaning, but which crucially allows the bus operators to continue in control of the service and to put shareholders first.
Compare this with Tracy Brabin, elected mayor of West Yorkshire just four weeks ago. She is going ahead with an Enhanced Partnership, but at the same time is “urgently progressing the detailed work that needs to be done to make the case for bus franchising.”
So, this is our message to Mayor Dan Jarvis: Dan, you’ve had three years! You’ve commissioned a thorough and detailed review (the Betts Review) which reported in June 2020 and recommended franchising. And yet here you are a year later commissioning yet another review into the bus service our region needs!
My goodness! Anyone would think you were playing for time and trying to wriggle your way out of being decisive!?
Instead of repeating a process which has already concluded that we need radical change, you should be meeting with bus users to discuss how we can bring about the public control we need. The Better Buses campaign has repeatedly requested a meeting with you but without success.
I guess you’re worried about how much franchising costs and that afterwards, you won’t have the money to run the buses. But the service is in decline anyway; it’s been in decline for the past thirty years since Thatcher’s crazy privatisation and it’ll carry on declining unless you take more control.
Come on man, remember your promise! The one big issue that will define your legacy and reputation in South Yorkshire is buses.
Better Buses for South Yorkshire