A £18.3 million investment to speed up Sheffield bus routes and cut congestion has seen some city journey times slashed by up to 25%.
Highway improvements on key bus routes - including smarter signal controls, new bus lanes, junction upgrades, road widening and more cameras to better monitor the flow of traffic - in the City Centre, North Sheffield, Gleadless, Meadowhead and on Penistone Road have also seen bus punctuality improvements of up to 3%.
The work, designed to give buses priority and improve traffic management across Sheffield’s 187 bus routes, is part of the UK’s first designated ‘Better Bus Area’ scheme, delivered by Sheffield Bus Partnership since 2013 and funded by the Department for Transport.
Benefitting up to 55 million passengers a year, it combines money previously paid directly to bus operators with a Government grant, allowing the Partnership – made up of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), Sheffield City Council and local bus companies - to work together to improve bus journey times to provide regular and reliable services.
SYPTE Director of Public Transport, Ben Gilligan, said: "Buses are a vital public service and an effective bus network is an essential part of a vibrant economy – linking people to jobs, education, shops and leisure. Through the Better Bus Area scheme, Sheffield Bus Partnership is helping transport to move more efficiently on key city corridors, and in turn improving bus satisfaction and increasing passenger numbers to reduce carbon emissions and congestion for everyone.”
Co-location of bus operator and Council staff at the city’s Urban Traffic Control Centre, a move made possible through the scheme, also means information sharing and the ability to minimise disruption caused by road incidents is greatly improved.
Sheffield City Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, Cllr Jack Scott, said: “Public transport is key to helping people travel in and around Sheffield, and a good quality bus service is vital in offering people choices in how they travel, and helping the City Council manage traffic congestion. We all want more jobs and homes provided for people, and the Better Buses Programme has made major contributions to improving conditions on our main roads – for buses and for car drivers, by making a series of highway improvements that benefit everyone.”
Future improvements delivered by the five-year Better Bus Area scheme, which concludes in March 2018, include widening Chesterfield Road at Heeley and further improvements on the Barnsley Road Corridor.
Kevin Belfield, Managing Director of First South Yorkshire, said: “We’re pleased with the latest results, which show that bus journey times are being reduced, however it’s important that we don’t become complacent, as what really matters to our customers is our ability to run services punctually. We welcome the continued work to improve road infrastructure for public transport in Sheffield.”
Matt Davies, Managing Director of Stagecoach Yorkshire, added: “We welcome these results and are really pleased to see investment and improvements are helping to deliver benefits for passengers and contributing to a more efficient and attractive city transport network.
“However, improvements in journey time can easily be offset by increasing traffic levels and congestion which means that we must continue to keep up the momentum. Focusing on improving bus journey times is now even more essential than ever.”