I am today calling for the creation of Transport for South Yorkshire, a local government body responsible for coordinating South Yorkshire’s transport network and delivering a clear and unified regional transport strategy. 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. I have heard loud and clear the repeated calls for change from my constituents in Rother Valley and from residents across South Yorkshire with regard to the dismal bus network in our region.
It is clear that enough is enough. I am delighted to announce that the campaign to create Transport for South Yorkshire is a core part of my 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:
- A fully-integrated, high-capacity bus network for South Yorkshire.
- 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.
- Subsidise more affordable fares for eligible pensioners, children, and disabled people.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pay for bus services at times and in areas where no commercial bus services are provided, or should make the awarding of certain lucrative franchises contingent on the provision of these universal service obligation routes by private companies.
- 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.
- There must be an easily accessible central complaints procedure for passengers with the right to an official response.
- Invest in the region’s physical and digital bus infrastructure, making bus travel easier and smarter.
- 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.
- Design a Transport for South Yorkshire mobile app where one can plan one’s route and track one’s bus.
- Erect electronic bus boards at every stop which indicates the time until the next bus.
- Introduce tap in and tap out contactless fare technology as operates in London and Manchester.
- 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.
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.