Emergency public transport funding has been announced for South Yorkshire, following a warning from Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis, MPs and transport chiefs that services could stop without further Government support.
Sheffield City Region will receive part of a £256 million national package to boost bus and tram networks, after recent coronavirus restrictions meant more people staying at home.
Welcoming the move, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) Executive Director, Stephen Edwards, said:
“The Government’s financial help has been critical in ensuring South Yorkshire’s public transport network can continue to connect people to the places they need to be, safely. This additional funding is a welcome boost in our bid to maintain services, as far as possible, as the region begins to recover from coronavirus. However, as this funding is time limited, we would urge government to commit to a longer-term settlement to support the re-start of the local economy.
“We are building back to a new normal, with more people relying on bus and tram travel as workplaces and schools return. And we want passengers to be confident that they can choose to travel by public transport. But services will continue to be different for a while. That’s why we’re asking people to plan ahead and, where possible, to be flexible about when they travel. Think about whether it’s possible to walk or cycle instead, check if you can avoid peak times, and travel smart to keep yourself and others safe.
“We can all play our part to stop the spread of coronavirus, by washing our hands, wearing a face covering and keeping our distance, on board public transport, in interchanges and at stations.”
It comes as Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis, MPs and SYPTE wrote to Transport Minister Grant Shapps for further intervention, as Government funding provided in May to support essential bus and tram services ceased on Monday (3 August).
Bus services across the country will receive up to £218.4 million of support over the next eight weeks, with rolling funding at up to £27.3 million per week afterwards. A 12 week agreement of £2.9 million will be provided to Sheffield City Region to support Stagecoach Supertram.
“While we have made inroads to secure the stability of South Yorkshire’s bus and tram network in the coming weeks, any premature removal of this support risks the loss of essential public transport services. We will continue to make the case for clarity on future funding arrangements to allow us to plan further ahead. This is essential to enable us to provide the safe public transport network that our city region needs.”
Tim Bilby, Managing Director of Stagecoach Supertram, said: “We are pleased the government has recognised the continuing importance of light rail networks in supporting the country’s recovery.
“Supertram has a crucial role in South Yorkshire’s public transport network, particularly as more people return to work and the schools restart. This funding will enable us to continue running a frequent and reliable service across the region providing vital connections for our customers.
“We will continue to work with the Mayor and SYPTE and other stakeholders from across the Sheffield City Region to press the case for Supertram, which is vital to the region’s economy.”
Coronavirus travel information and advice, public transport updates and timetables are available at travelsouthyorkshire.com/coronavirus