The proposals include free travel for under 18s and capped fares for all passengers, bus priority measures to make journeys quicker, better journey planning information, ‘turn up and go’ bus options, and zero emission buses to make travel cleaner and greener towards a net-zero future.
This is all included in a new ‘Enhanced Partnership’ with the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) and bus operators.
Mayor Jarvis has said previously this will bring the transport authority and operators closer together in working towards a better system but critics have said – including Sheffield MP Louise Haigh – that these partnerships don’t work and moves should be made to bring the network back into public control.
This is in response to the National Bus Strategy (Bus Back Better), a central plank of the government’s levelling-up policy. The £3 billion of funding which Bus Back Better promised for local transport authorities has since been slashed in half.
The Enhanced Partnership Plan and scheme would form a legally binding agreement between SYMCA and local bus operators to deliver the actions set out in South Yorkshire’s Bus Service Improvement Plan. Other bus governance models are available to the Mayor and the MCA to deliver the BSIP, including franchising.
SYMCA is due to decide whether to undertake an assessment of a proposed franchising scheme on March 4.
Tim Taylor, director of public transport operations at SYMCA, said: “We’ve heard what people told us in the Bus Review and have set out a bold roadmap to bus reform in response. We are now asking local people to work with us to shape future plans for tickets, routes and services that better meet local needs.
“The commitment to deliver the Enhanced Partnership is a vital first step to provide workers and families who rely on public transport with a fundamentally better bus service, unlocking greater powers for passengers and local leaders to work with operators to create the bus network South Yorkshire deserves.
“Our plans can be the catalyst for the step-change in local buses we all want to see, to tackle the systemic problems facing passengers, and help to rebuild regional public transport following Covid-19.”