South Yorkshire public transport bosses U-turn on price hike for TravelMaster tickets

Travel operators in South Yorkshire have U-turned on a decision to bring in a price hike multi-use tickets on buses, trams and trains.

By George Torr
Saturday, 5th June 2021, 3:19 pm
Updated Monday, 7th June 2021, 9:06 am

TravelMaster, who are run and owned by companies like Stagecoach, First, Supertram and Northern, met on Friday and decided to postpone the decision.

South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis heavily criticised the planned increase but welcomed the operators’ decision in changing course.

The initial announcement was met with mass opposition with all four South Yorkshire council leaders co-signing a letter from Mayor Jarvis in support of scrapping the hike.

Bus, pictured on Trafford Way. Picture: NDFP-06-10-20-Buses 2-NMSY

Travel operators said the timing ‘wasn’t ideal’ but a wider discussion was needed in future to reduce public transport operating costs and to prioritise buses, trains and trams over private cars.

A source working at one of the travel operators said it was a ‘strange move’ so soon after receiving millions in subsidiaries to keep passengers moving during the pandemic.

Mayor Jarvis called the planned increase ‘tone deaf’ and a ‘kick in the teeth’ for passengers.

“I welcome TravelMaster’s decision to hold off hiking up prices from Monday,” Mayor Jarvis said.

“This would have hit passengers in their pockets at a time of economic hardship, and driven people away from public transport at exactly the time we’re trying to encourage everyone back on our buses.

“We’re investing millions to improve our public transport system for passengers.

“We need bus companies to work with us to build the network this region deserves.”

TravelMaster has said they have put plans to apply a five per cent price rise to their range of products on hold, but may introduce price changes later this month.

TravelMaster is a commercial organisation owned and operated by the region’s transport companies. The companies work together through TravelMaster to deliver multi-operator tickets.

Matt Smallwood, managing director of TravelMaster, said: “Following discussions with its members, and correspondence from Mayor Dan Jarvis and regional leaders, TravelMaster’s board has today agreed to defer pricing changes and retain our current prices at this time.

“I have now cancelled the price changes due to take place on Monday meaning customers will continue to benefit from a real term cut in the cost of their travel.

“We fully understand the concerns raised around the timing of our announced increases; however, it is important to recognise that taxpayer emergency support for public transport will not continue indefinitely.

“The factors that influenced our original decision do remain and at some point the higher operating costs driven by the pandemic and other factors will need to be paid for to protect the quality of services, deliver critical investment and help secure the future of the public transport network.

“This is why TravelMaster continues to support a wider discussion with the mayor, and other stakeholders, on the measures we can take together to reduce public transport operating costs, and to prioritise buses, trains and trams over private cars, to help support continued low fares for the region’s passengers”.

“TravelMaster has consistently delivered some of the UK’s best value and most flexible multi-operator ticket prices in the country and we remain committed to finding ways to sustainably provide customers with the best value travel possible.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.