'Things need to improve' - South Yorkshire groups give evidence to panel reviewing region's bus services
Bus services across South Yorkshire are fragmented and do not properly serve passengers, a has meeting heard.
People representing different groups gave their views on the state of services to the independent bus review panel which was launched by the Sheffield City Region.
Members of South Yorkshire Freedom Riders, Sheffield Transport For All, Thurgoland Parish Council Public Transport Working Group and Sheffield University Students’ Union were in attendance.
All participants told the panel - which included Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts – that bus services were not up to required standards and changes are needed.
Over the last decade, the number of people using them has fallen by nearly 20 per cent.
Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis announced a review into the bus network across South Yorkshire to see what improvements could be made and appointed Mr Betts to appoint a panel of commissioners.
The panel have been asking residents, community groups and business their views about how the bus service could be improved.
Issues such as accessibility to the Northern General Hospital, cross border bus travel, complex routes, ticketing and fares were raised.
Jake Verity, president of Sheffield University Students' Union, said there had been tangible success in discussing problems with the bus companies on issues like fares and night buses.
"A lot of students wanted the £1 fare back and we had discussions with First who agreed to do that. Stagecoach initially weren’t interested by they followed in time.
“We managed to get a night bus at 3am from the union to places like Broomhill and Crookes – this was well received.
“But there are issues for students still when you're in a group. Four people getting an Uber to Sheffield train station can cost £3 instead of four £1 journeys on a bus.
“The fact you can get to Meadowhall quicker and cheaper by train than by tram from the city centre says it all about public transport in Sheffield as well.”
Sue Heyes and Roy Harris were representing Thurgoland Parish Council, which sits close to Stocksbridge and the Sheffield border, said bus cuts from the village were leaving people isolated.
Mr Harris spoke about Barnsley Council helping fund a community service serving Penistone and the surrounding villages in south of the borough but couldn’t fund a route into Stocksbridge and the Fox Valley Shopping Park because it crossed a council boundary.
“We’re 10 miles from the city centre but we don't have a direct bus service to Sheffield. Even closer to home, people can get to Fox Valley in Stocksbridge but buses back stop past 5pm,” Mr Harris said.
Fran Postlewaite from South Yorkshire Freedom Riders said the region needed serious conversations around franchising and public ownership but accepted it would be difficult to do.
“We know what happened in London, they weren’t hit by deregulation and they have a damn better service than us.
“Buses need to be a universal that needs proper funding under the control of local communities.”
James Martin from Sheffield Transport For All cited Nottingham as a good example of how they run their public transport where bus patronage is on the rise.