TravelMaster ticket rise is ‘kick in the teeth for passengers’ says South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis

A price hike in multi-operator tickets across public transport in South Yorkshire has been called a ‘kick in the teeth’ for passengers – and providers are being asked to drop the plans.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:42 pm

A rise in TravelMaster tickets, which allow passengers to travel on bus, tram and some train services in South Yorkshire, has been criticised by South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis.

The mayor has written to companies, including bus operators First and Stagecoach asking them to drop the proposals and said it was ‘unacceptable’.

The letter has been signed by all South Yorkshire council leaders.

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Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis speaks to the media as South Yorkshire moves into Tier 3 lockdown. Picture: Chris Etchells

TravelMaster are applying a five per cent price rise to their range of products, including 1-Day and 7-Day tickets purchased on board, from June 7, 2021

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.

TravelMaster is independent of any single operator and is not part of any public sector body.

In the letter to the bosses of First and Stagecoach, Mayor Jarvis said: “Local leaders and I will not accept a situation where bus companies want to be considered an essential service – justifying exceptional support – when times are bad, but then immediately seek to make a quick profit on the backs of the travelling public when the crisis has passed.

“The operators should drop these disgraceful proposals and commit to working with us to build the service that we all want to see and that our communities deserve.

“Against this backdrop, your above-inflation increase in TravelMaster fare prices is anunacceptable kick in the teeth for passengers in South Yorkshire.

“We cannot accept that bus companies are happy to be considered part of an essential service justifying exceptional support when times are bad, and then expect to be treated like just another business sector only concerned with maximising their profits as soon as the crisis has passed.

“We welcome your positive overture on enhanced partnership and are determined to workwith you constructively. But we are deeply concerned that this price rise signals anadversarial relationship that calls into question the prospects for us reaching an agreementwhich advances the transformation we all want to see.”

Responding to the letter Matt Smallwood, managing director of TravelMaster, which sets multi-operator ticket prices for South Yorkshire’s public transport services, said:

“TravelMaster, and all our operators, have a long history of working collaboratively together and with our local authority partners to deliver some of the UK’s leading value for money products for the region’s passengers.

“I completely understand the frustration and anger around our decision to increase prices from June 7alongside the concerns around the timing as lockdowns ease.

“Nonetheless, increases in operating costs mean that inevitably increases to prices that are amongst the lowest in the country have to be considered to help operators reduce the burden on the taxpayer as they work to deliver and invest in the region’s network.”

A Stagecoach spokesman said: "The new multi-operator fares are set by Travelmaster, which represents all public transport modes in South Yorkshire. There will be no change to Stagecoach-specific bus or tram tickets, which thousands of our passengers choose to use each week.

"Our services are currently being supported by government funding in recognition of the impact of the pandemic restrictions on the income from fares, which is intended to cover the shortfall in passenger fare income. Therefore any taxpayer funding will reduce under the terms of the government support mechanism.

"As we emerge from the pandemic, we want to work with the mayor and our transport partners on specific customer improvement initiatives, including bus priority measures, that will reduce the costs of running bus services and help to keep prices low for customers in South Yorkshire."

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.