Sheffield campaigners rally for better buses

Campaigners calling for improvements to South Yorkshire’s bus network held a protest in Sheffield on Tuesday. 

Local organisations met outside South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority offices in Sheffield where they protested about poor bus reliability across the county.

Groups attending included Burngreave Clean Air Campaign and Better Buses for South Yorkshire.

Fran Poslethwaite, 71, one of the organisers, said she started campaigning after realising that South Yorkshire’s bus service was “not fit for purpose”. 

It comes as Sheffield’s city-wide day ticket fare increased by 10% in January, although single fares are temporarily protected from price rises by the government’s £2 single fare scheme. 

Ms Poslethwaite said to the crowd: “If you do not know whether your bus will turn up, you miss appointments, you get late to work, late to college.” 

A key motivation for the campaign was to bring buses back into public ownership and regulation, instead of the current privatised model.

Last year, the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) authorised the assessment of a proposed bus franchising scheme.

The current system of private ownership was introduced in 1986 and banned municipal bus companies.

Ms Poslethwaite said that before this, South Yorkshire was ‘notorious for having a fantastic bus service’. 

Research by Campaign for Better Transport in 2018 showed that even before the pandemic, trips on buses in English metropolitan areas have fallen almost 15% since 2010. 

Ms Poslethwaite said that many different areas were suffering under the current bus regulation and by recent route changes, including Wincobank, in the north-east of the city, where a bus service used to run up through the centre of the community.

Ms Poslethwaite said: “The bus company cut that and made it run along the main road at the bottom, which means that anybody who has mobility issues for example, really struggles to get to their bus.

“There are other areas, particularly once you get a little bit further out from the city centre, where buses are so infrequent and unreliable at the same time that people can’t use them to get to work easily.

“We had a campaign last summer inviting people to send messages about their bus services, and I got 100 individual stories.” 

South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority has been contacted for comment. 

Written by Alex Simpson

You May Also Like…