South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (SYITA) has approved plans for a groundbreaking agreement with bus operators that will see many passengers paying lower fares for their journey.
The Sheffield Bus Agreement is a voluntary partnership that brings together South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, First South Yorkshire, Stagecoach Sheffield, TM Travel, Sheffield Community Transport and Sheffield City Council. The aim is to improve the bus network so that the numbers of people using it grow.
The new network, which is due to launch on 28 October this year, will see a new discounted multi-operator ticket which will see fares fall by as much as 23 per cent. Up to 35 per cent of customers stand to benefit from the new fares. As well as the current Citywide Day ticket – at a reduced price of £4-30, new weekly, 28 day and annual Citywide tickets will be introduced.
The partners believe that by working together they will be able to make the network simpler, more flexible and more convenient.
Other improvements as part of the partnership include:
• smart tickets, which means easier payment methods and removing the need to pay cash to the driver
• less changes to routes and timetables – meaning a more stable network overall
• better tickets that can be used across operators in the partnership - putting customer needs first
• newer greener, low floor buses
• lower fares for cross service tickets (including Supertram)
The partnership carried out consultation on its proposals in June and July and received around 2,500 replies. These have resulted in a number of changes such as an hourly bus service along Psalter Lane to replace the 4 route, the 70 service will be extended to serve Sheffield Interchange, the 42/44 services will continue to have evening services and there will changes to the proposals for the 83 and 84 routes.
And the Government has already indicated that it will help Sheffield to become one of the leading examples of bus partnership working by awarding an extra £8 million over the next five years to be invested in improving the network even further.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development and Vice Chair of the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, said: "The partnership is the best deal for Sheffield. It will see better buses offering a better, more reliable and affordable service, with a unified approach to customer information and a modern approach to ticketing.
"What’s more we are able to implement this from October, bringing people far better public transport now, not in three years time.
"In addition, the government has made it clear that it will support the Bus Partnership Agreement financially - something it is equally clear it won't do for Quality Contracts. It has recognised the Bus Partnership Agreement as innovative and ground breaking and is willing to provide a further £8m over five years to support the agreement, giving a further boost to efforts to improve bus services. Given these factors, it is clear the best option for bus users is to suspend work on a Quality Contract to focus on ensuring the Bus Partnership delivers a better bus service for people here and now."
David Young, SYPTE Director of Customer Experience, said: “This is a new start for bus services in Sheffield, one that offers the potential to grow the number of people using buses by offering an improved network.
“We have listened to people and have altered our plans to make sure that when this goes live at the end of October, pending approval from Sheffield City Council, that it will best serve the needs of the travelling public.
“This is the Sheffield people’s bus network, designed in consultation with them, for them. We hope it will persuade more people to make the switch from cars to buses.”