A pioneering partnership between transport bosses and local residents has seen passenger numbers on Sheffield’s No.4 bus service more than double.
The Community Bus Partnership is a joint initiative between South Yorkshire Passenger Transport (SYPTE), TM Travel, Sheffield City Council and local residents. One of the first of its kind in the UK, its customers promote the service to their community and their feedback helps to shape the service and suggests how it can be improved.
Thanks to local community support, the No.4 service that runs from Sheffield Interchange to Bents Green via Psalter Lane has grown in popularity by 117% and now carries over 1,600 passengers a week.
Dubbed the ‘People’s Bus’, the No.4 was scheduled for withdrawal last year because of the low number of people using it. Following consultation with the community and customer feedback, the service was retained by the Sheffield Bus Partnership when it launched in October 2012.
The Sheffield Bus Partnership is a unique agreement that brings together bus operators, Sheffield City Council and SYPTE in a joint bid to make the city’s bus offer more simple, stable, affordable and convenient.
The No.4’s distinctive cherry red, low-floor buses are driven by a small number of regular, friendly drivers that have built up a rapport with the service’s customers. Residents promote the service by distributing timetables to local households and through community communication channels, and contribute to how it can be made even better at drop-in sessions and through on-board comment cards.
Suggestions from the No.4 community that have already been introduced to the service include an extension into the village of Ringinglow on a Saturday, enabling people to access walks on the edge of the Peak District National Park, and evening services that serve Sheffield Interchange, where its safe and well lit environment is welcome on winter evenings. SYPTE and TM Travel were happy to support these changes.
The No.4 has been such a success that a special News4You newsletter has been launched and distributed on the bus to keep customers up to date on the service’s latest developments and news.
The first issue of the newsletter includes information about community events, shops and businesses, as well as publicising walks and local points of interest.
No.4 bus user, Jean Cromar of Grange Crescent Road, said: “The No.4 bus service is a lifeline and a vital service to so many people. The Community Bus Partnership has delivered a bus service that is accessible, runs on time and has friendly, regular drivers. A great ‘thank you’ to all involved in the initiative.”
SYPTE Deputy Interim Director General, David Young, said: “The community’s involvement in the development and promotion of the No.4 bus service is making a valuable contribution to its growing success. By listening to customer feedback on the service we are able to work together with them and the bus operator to continue to make direct improvements as a result.
“The opportunities the Community Bus Partnership initiative is presenting are exciting, and we hope to expand the scheme to include other bus routes in South Yorkshire, where the community want to work with us. This is a much more positive way to protect local bus services than the traditional ‘use it or lose it’ type campaigns of the past.”
The Sheffield Bus Partnership has seen significant growth in bus patronage, and is currently giving the public of Sheffield the opportunity to comment on proposals for significant changes to a number of the city’s other bus services in a public consultation online at sheffieldbuspartnership.co.uk or by filling in a questionnaire, available on most buses or at Travel South Yorkshire Information Centres in Sheffield.
For more information or to contribute to the NewsforYou newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org