Changes will affect local bus services from September as fewer passengers, increased running costs and reduced transport funding continue to put pressure on South Yorkshire’s bus network.
While the majority of South Yorkshire bus services will remain unchanged, approximately a quarter of all services will see frequency, route or timetable revisions. Fifteen services will be rerouted or replaced by alternatives. Two services will be withdrawn. Some local buses will benefit from increases in frequency and changes to improve reliability. Most school bus services have been saved.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive’s (SYPTE) Executive Director, Stephen Edwards, said: “Buses are a vital part of our public transport network - more than 80% of all passenger journeys in South Yorkshire are made by bus. However, like the rest of the country, we are seeing passenger numbers fall.
“We’ve worked hard with local bus companies to protect the network and minimise the impact on passengers, as far as is possible with the resources available. This means a large proportion of services will not change, but the network is under pressure. Running costs for bus operators have risen and public transport funding is stretched. We simply can’t afford to retain the same level of services.”
Most of the changes affect Sheffield and Doncaster. Some of the changes are being made by bus companies for commercial reasons. Others are as a result of a reduction in the funding available for SYPTE to spend on subsidising local buses, where alternative public transport links do not exist.
Mr Edwards, continued: “We’ve faced difficult decisions about how we spend our budget, to make sure essential economic and social connections across the region are maintained. Reducing services isn’t something we want to do, and we have made sure, wherever possible, alternative transport links are available to passengers. School buses have been prioritised, to maintain important services that help young people get to education and training.”
First South Yorkshire Managing Director, Garry Birmingham, said: “The majority of the bus network will be unchanged. Where changes have been necessary these are mainly route or timetable adjustments to ensure we’re providing an efficient, modern network.
“Parts of our bus network have become inefficient and unreliable and it is only right that services adapt to increasing congestion and changes in customer demand.
“In some cases we have worked with transport partners to support wider changes and maintain access to communities where possible.
“We keep services under review and will continue to monitor customer feedback with our partners to introduce improvements as necessary.”
Edwards, added: “With fewer customers, services become costlier to run and unsustainable for commercial operators. Our buses need greater support from passengers and policy makers alike if we are to reverse this continued decline.”
A Bus Review was announced in February to examine all aspects of the Sheffield City Region bus transport system and services, with the aim of identifying and recommending improvements that will benefit users as well as supporting the broader sustainability of the bus transport sector.
Information about September local bus and school service changes will be available online at travelsouthyorkshire.com/servicechanges, in interchanges and via Traveline 01709 51 51 51.