- Rother Valley MP and founder of the Rother Valley Public Transport Taskforce, Alexander Stafford, has called on South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis to create a franchised public transport model to tackle the dismal bus network and service in Rother Valley
- Alexander calls on South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority leader, Mayor Dan Jarvis, to use the franchising powers that he has been given by the Government, along with significant Government funding, to create Transport for South Yorkshire and fix poor connectivity and level of public transport service.
ALEXANDER Stafford MP, fervent campaigner on public transport, founder of the Rother Valley Public Transport Taskforce and Member of Parliament for Rother Valley, is calling on South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority leader, Mayor Dan Jarvis, to franchise public transport in South Yorkshire in an effort to overhaul and improve abysmal service.
As part of these calls, Alexander has announced that the creation of Transport for South Yorkshire is a core part of his transport plan for Rother Valley and feeds into the Government’s recently released ‘Bus Back Better’ national bus strategy. Transport for South Yorkshire will utilise the devolved transport powers that lie with the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and the mayor of South Yorkshire, Dan Jarvis, to integrate the bus network across the county.
Transport for South Yorkshire must achieve the following vital objectives. Firstly, Transport for South Yorkshire must preside over a fully-integrated, high-capacity bus network for South Yorkshire. In order to do this, Transport for South Yorkshire must set standardised, affordable bus fares across the county, to apply to all services and routes regardless of the private operator. This means that a ticket or pass can be used on any bus anywhere in the county. Additionally, the transport body must subsidise more affordable fares for eligible pensioners, children, and disabled people. Furthermore, Transport for South Yorkshire must centrally plan and control all routes, timetables, and funding, and all services must operate under Transport for South Yorkshire livery and branding as is the case in London.
Secondly, Transport for South Yorkshire must deliver more frequent bus services – one an hour is simply not good enough – and many more routes, with a mixture of routes which link up every town and village in our region, and then also super-fast direct routes between larger towns and cities. The transport body must pay for bus services at times and in areas where no commercial bus services are provided, or should make the provision of these universal service obligation routes by private companies contingent on the awarding of certain lucrative franchises. Thirdly, there must be clear performance targets and benchmarks to guarantee reliable service, with the option for the franchise to be removed from the underperforming private company if necessary. In line with this, there must be an easily accessible central complaints procedure for passengers with the right to an official response.
Fourthly, Transport for South Yorkshire must invest in the region’s physical and digital bus infrastructure, making bus travel easier and smarter. The body must introduce a clear, consistent network map and bus numbering system which can be easily understood and remembered. There needs to be a revamp of South Yorkshire’s bus stations, bus stops, and bus shelters, with new modern transport interchanges where necessary. Digitally, there should be a Transport for South Yorkshire mobile app where one can plan one’s route and track one’s bus; electronic bus boards at every stop which indicates the time until the next bus; and tap in and tap out contactless fare technology as operates in London and Manchester.
Finally, Transport for South Yorkshire must be in charge of a bold and ambitious regional transport strategy for the decades ahead, placing capital transport investment and sustainable green technology at the heart of transport in South Yorkshire. Once the bus network reforms have been implemented, Transport for South Yorkshire can look to integrate the Sheffield Supertram, local trains, and public bicycle hire schemes into the network.
Commenting, Alexander said:
“The creation of Transport for South Yorkshire does not mean renationalising the buses, which would not be possible with existing capital or even desirable, but we must recognise that the current bus privatisation model has not worked.
South Yorkshire has a dynamic population of 1.8 million people, making the region one of the UK’s major metropolitan areas. We need a world-class integrated mass transit system to match, and we must start with our regional bus network. The capital has Transport for London and our near neighbours across the Pennines have Transport for Greater Manchester. Why should excellent buses be the preserve of those living in Greater London or Greater Manchester but not South Yorkshire? There is no reason why South Yorkshire cannot have one of the most exciting and efficient integrated transport systems in the whole country.
However, the power to create Transport for South Yorkshire lies with South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority. The authorities in Sheffield must realise that the toothless South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive is not sufficient to deal with the bus crisis and does not have the powers to revolutionise bus travel in our region. I therefore call on the mayor to work with me to establish Transport for South Yorkshire, and I stand ready to begin discussions with him on this. I look forward to the creation of a transit system in which we can all be proud and which is long overdue in South Yorkshire.”