South Yorkshire leaders approve £5.1 million bailout package to save school buses services

Political leaders in South Yorkshire have signed off a multi-million bailout package to save planned cuts to school bus services.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 25th July 2022, 3:09 pm

South Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard and the region’s council leaders approved a £5.1 million proposal to reverse commercial route cuts which affect children getting to and from school.

The meeting at Broad Street West in Sheffield heard that the MCA ‘could not fund’ all at risk services but were keen to protect commercial services heavily used by children in the mornings and afternoons.

The leaders approved using its budget reserves in order to protect school buses at risk from cuts.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

South Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard and the region’s council leaders approved a £5.1 million proposal to reverse commercial route cuts which affect children getting to and from school.

School buses that carry children who get a zero-fare bus pass from their council 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.

The region is facing the loss of a third of its bus network, as government funding to help operators get through the pandemic comes to an end.

The first of the cuts came into effect on July 24, with further routes at risk in October, including commercially-operated school buses.

Most buses in South Yorkshire are run by private companies. Under the current system these companies are free to decide where and when they will run services.

Political leaders have signed off a £5.1 million bailout package

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, a number of routes received no bids from operators.

SYMCA lost out in the most recent round of government bus funding. Mayor Coppard has urged government to provide emergency funding to keep the service going while SYMCA is in the process of seeing if it can take buses back into public control through the franchising process.

Mayor Mr Coppard said; “Our communities are facing the very real threat of the biggest and most damaging cuts for a generation, thanks to this broken system which is failing passengers.

“At the moment we have limited powers over our bus service. I’m doing everything I can to speed up the process of getting the right powers in place, but until then, I’ll work hard to protect as many services as possible for passengers.

“I hope this emergency funding will reassure students and their families – as well as the schools themselves – that we will do whatever we can to keep these vital services running.”