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South Yorkshire Bus Service Needs Improvement

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It is April Fool's Day!

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15 hours ago, 26b-6 said:

No bus service needs improvement.  Buses like high-street shops now firmly belong in the dustbins of history.  Subsidized electric bikes and segregated bicycle lanes with other required necessary infrastructure is what we need to plan for.  And state-run taxi services for the obeast and disabled.

Surely "obeast" (sic) would benefit from cycling, a way to shed the excess weight ? 😐

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12 minutes ago, AKAMD said:

It is April Fool's Day!

Ooops, forgot about that. 🤣

3 minutes ago, Resident said:

Surely "obeast" (sic) would benefit from cycling, a way to shed the excess weight ? 😐

True, so they wouldn't need the 'free taxi'.😀

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Looks like the council are messing around with the roads again and banishing some of the buses to even more obscure, unpleasant stops!

 

From 11th April the stops on Carver Street are moving to the bottom of Rockingham Street which will impact routes like 30, 51, 52, 95, 120 and X5. These originally picked up by the Peace Gardens!

https://www.firstbus.co.uk/sheffield/news-and-service-updates/planned-changes/service-changes-12th-april-2021

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That's what they call 'making public transport more accessible' - NOT!

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11 hours ago, Andy C said:

Looks like the council are messing around with the roads again and banishing some of the buses to even more obscure, unpleasant stops!

 

From 11th April the stops on Carver Street are moving to the bottom of Rockingham Street which will impact routes like 30, 51, 52, 95, 120 and X5. These originally picked up by the Peace Gardens!

https://www.firstbus.co.uk/sheffield/news-and-service-updates/planned-changes/service-changes-12th-april-2021

new game   "Hunt the bus stop"

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Manchester regional mayor Andy Burnham is proposing to take buses back under local authority control. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-manchester-56523708

 

Stagecoach are seeking a judicial review.  

 

As someone who is not generally a bus user, although my wife uses them most days, I'm not sure?  It's all well & good taking public transport back under local authority control & if priced right & if the services could be improved & service frequency guaranteed,. I might be tempted out of the car but I'm of the age to remember when the old Sheffield rates contributed to the services.  Presumably any move in Sheffield / South Yorkshire would mean further increases to the council tax, even for those who don't use public transport for one reason or another? 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Baron99 said:

Manchester regional mayor Andy Burnham is proposing to take buses back under local authority control. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-manchester-56523708

 

Stagecoach are seeking a judicial review.  

 

As someone who is not generally a bus user, although my wife uses them most days, I'm not sure?  It's all well & good taking public transport back under local authority control & if priced right & if the services could be improved & service frequency guaranteed,. I might be tempted out of the car but I'm of the age to remember when the old Sheffield rates contributed to the services.  Presumably any move in Sheffield / South Yorkshire would mean further increases to the council tax, even for those who don't use public transport for one reason or another? 

 

 

 

As we can see from the interference by SYPTE, any political control causes immense disruption, and as you say, taking the service back 'under local authority control' merely increases costs for all - bus users and non-users alike. It does not increase efficiency, and leads to more empty vehicles running, as the politicians try to 'buy' favours.

 

An efficient and well run provision needs the local authorities and operators to co-operate, and if they do, you end up with a service which is well used and generally reliable. I'm reminded of the public transport provision in my 'second home' area - Sussex - where Stagecoach and Go-Ahead are the main operators, with a large number of smaller concerns, all working with the authorities to provide an exemplary service - hell, you can even use the 'Brighton & Hove Buses' daily/weekly/ monthly pass/tickets on a large number of routes operated by these other concerns - and ticket prices are not that much higher - if at all - than those we pay here.

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some of you with long memories may remember that in June the Mayor released the results of his review into bus services in S Yorkshire (obviously carried out pre covid) which included numerous recommendations for the short term (7 within 3 months of publication and a further 7 within 6-12 months of publication),  together with further recommendations for the longer term. The report recognised the impact of Covid and concluded that there was an opportunity to make the necessary improvement to the bus system in S Yorks for when life returns to normal.

 

Lucky that little action was taken with this report

 

the full report is here

https://sheffieldcityregion.org.uk/busreviewreport/

 

Interestingly the report also said that the committee would review progress in a years time.  Should make interesting reading

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Posted (edited)

I really do think the proposal of bus franchising is like amputating a leg to fix an ingrowing toe nail. The word from Manchester is that it will cost around £135m just to restructure the local authority to run the new system - that is a lot of taxpayers money spent without anything changing to the timetables, routes, fleet, tickets or infrastructure.

 

The other option offered by the government is an enhanced partnership, which would build on the current bus partnership in place in Sheffield that involves the main operators, SYPTE and Sheffield City Council and has seen co-ordinated timetables on routes served by rival operators and very good value commuter tickets. This seems a much more sensible, value for money option.

 

A lot of the arguments for major change seem to be built on myths and political dogma. For a start for the businesses running buses in Sheffield it isn't lucrative with huge profits being creamed off for shareholders, the reality is margins are wafer thin and much commercial risk is taken when trying innovative new services or upgrading existing ones. London isn't exactly the best role model to hold up either, where bus use has been in decline for the last 8 years, partly due to journey times getting longer and reliability falling due to congestion and a halt on investment in things like bus lanes and their enforcement. Commuting in London is more expensive than in Sheffield too - a weekly cap on bus & tram travel in London is £21.70, whilst in Sheffield a weekly Citywide pass for all buses and trams bought online costs £16.30. London buses don't have things like wifi, USB phone charging sockets or comfy faux leather seats like some Sheffield buses either! They also don't take cash.

 

Lets look at where the issues are with Sheffield's buses, as I see them (as a user):

  • long journey times and poor reliability on some routes: this is due to road traffic congestion and to fix needs investment in bus priority measures and proper enforcement. PUBLIC SECTOR FAIL.
  • Cuts to services in some areas or times of day that aren't busy enough to be financially viable but considered socially or economically important. This is the tendered network that SYPTE specify and financially support that has been the victim of budget cuts due to government austerity policy. PUBLIC SECTOR FAIL.
  • Complex and confusing ticket range: The Travelmaster range of tickets is accepted by all operators and offers options for bus, tram and train. Individual operators also offer their own cheaper products for those willing to stay local. The obvious way to simplify things would be to sweep away the operator specific products and just have Travelmaster - but those that would pay more as a result wouldn't be happy.
  • Family tickets not cheap enough to attract such groups out of cars - this is an unfortunate by product of how the concessionary fare scheme for young people works - the operators do not get the reimbursement for discounted child travel if they are on a family ticket.
  • Glass wall syndrome: Lack of buses and multi-operator ticketing across the county boundary between South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. This is a result of local authorities only taking interest within their own patch and would probably only get worse with franchising.

As far as I can tell, none of the above problems are the result of private businesses running the services, they are all things local authorities could fix under the current set up. It is probably also worth mentioning that the current bus companies - be that big national companies like Stagecoach and First or small local independent businesses like Hulleys of Baslow - have a lot of experienced, passionate professionals involved running them that frankly know what they are doing and would be a great loss if a change of structure saw them move on.

Edited by Andy C

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Posted (edited)

Very good analysis, @Andy C, but unfortunately doesn't fit with the 'politicians should interfere everywhere, even though they know sweet fanny adams about the subject' mentality which appears to be the focus of the 'report' mentioned earlier by BigAl1.

See post #116 - if it works down there, why can we not try a similar scheme here? Oh, I forget, 'it's not how we work up here!'. Gimme strength.

Edited by RollingJ

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3 hours ago, RollingJ said:

Very good analysis, @Andy C, but unfortunately doesn't fit with the 'politicians should interfere everywhere, even though they know sweet fanny adams about the subject' mentality which appears to be the focus of the 'report' mentioned earlier by BigAl1.

See post #116 - if it works down there, why can we not try a similar scheme here? Oh, I forget, 'it's not how we work up here!'. Gimme strength.

That is the problem. The local politicians want not only to "improve" things, they also want to bed seen to do so and gain the votes that go with it. 

I have no doubt that when the Manchester system fails as it inevitably will, the local politicians will find a way to blame the bus companies. 

We need a national body overseeing this, manned by Knowledgable staff from within the transport industry. They could set service levels nationally with local authorities topping up through financial inputs. This would remove county boundaries and lessen the local political interference. It would also result in a uniform approach to ticketing and timetabling. 

Sadly that will never happen as the local politicians will never approve it. 

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