School bus services across South Yorkshire set to be saved in £5.1 million bailout deal

South Yorkshire’s political leaders are expected to sign-off a bailout package in order to save school bus services across the region.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 11:05 am

Mayor Oliver Coppard and council leaders will discuss a plan to put aside £5.1 million over the next two-years in order to safeguard children getting to and from school.

It comes as massive cuts to the bus network are being drawn up by private operators which begin on July 24 but will sweep across the region by October.

The region is facing the loss of a third of its bus network, after government funding to help operators get through the pandemic comes to an end in October. Commercially-operated school bus routes are among those at risk.

SY mayor Oliver Coppard and council leaders are set to sign off £5.1 million to save school bus services.

At a forthcoming board meeting of the Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA), the mayor will propose using part of the MCA’s budget to keep those school buses going.

School buses which carry children who get a zero fare bus pass from their local authority are not affected by the cuts, as these routes are already funded by SYMCA. The routes under threat are the ones which also carry children paying 80 pence fares.

When bus companies withdraw services – as they are expected to do in October when government funding stops – SYMCA can pay other companies to run the route. However, in the most recent tender process, the mayor said a number of routes received no bids from operators.

South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard said, ‘We are facing the immediate threat of the biggest and most damaging cuts for a generation, and sadly school buses are among those at risk of being pulled.

“South Yorkshire’s roads are already among the most dangerous in the UK for children. So unless we want even more cars on the school run – not only increasing traffic and making our air more toxic, but also potentially making it harder for many parents and carers to get to work – a reliable school bus service is vital.

“While we wait for the money and the powers to fix our broken bus system, I’ve promised to do everything I can to keep our service going.

“So I’m recommending that local leaders approve our plan of using part of our budget reserve to keep these buses going in the face of brutal cuts.”