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Emergency meeting called to address public transport issues in city

Supertram on Sheffield High Street

Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council has called an emergency meeting tomorrow with city transport operators to discuss concerns about disruption to services and to get firm assurance and plans that everything is being done to resume service levels urgently.

Following announcements this week of timetable changes on both the Stagecoach Supertram due to driver shortages, and bus service issues due to workforce strike action, the council is calling on the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and providers Stagecoach and First to prioritise finding solutions to the issues affecting vital public transport services across the city.

The disruption follows a series of other service changes that have occurred over the last few months, which have impacted journey times and capacity on public transport, making it more difficult for residents and visitors to get around the city.

The most recent changes come at the busiest time of year, when weather conditions mean more people rely on public transport to get around.

In addition, First buses, who operate many routes throughout the city, are expected to announce some service reductions in January.

Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said:

“Reducing the timetable just as we move into winter and the run up to Christmas is simply not good enough and will leave many people struggling to travel around the city at one of the busiest times of the year. 

“I’ve called for an emergency meeting with the South Yorkshire Mayor, SYPTE, and transport providers to really push home the level of anger and disappointment felt out there

“I will also demand that operators return to, as a minimum, the services operated at before these recent changes. A reduction in services like this cannot be accepted as the new normal. It’s simply not good enough.

“Sheffield Council has worked tirelessly alongside our regional partners to get the government to cough-up £100m for the Supertram network, and we are steadfast in our commitment to the network - but we need providers to step up and deliver a service that meets the city’s needs. 

‘We need to see Stagecoach’s plan for fixing this. We will do whatever we can to the support them, and we understand the pressure they’re under, but they need to up-their-game and get on top of this – quickly, we cannot be in this position.

“It’s the same with our buses - it is deeply frustrating to be in this position after 18 months when unprecedented public money has gone to operators, including over £20m to First alone. The council has supported the Mayoral Combined Authority to provide major resources into reviving passenger numbers, including committing millions for fare concessions and the ongoing transformation of the network. 

“Whatever the challenges facing operators, a rush to cut services seriously calls into question their commitment to the city.

“Whilst we must acknowledge the driver shortages it is abundantly clear that the Government has fuelled this situation – due to the ongoing uncertainty over recovery funding and lack of long-term investment plans.

“Frankly, the system is broken and not delivering for Sheffield. This is why we repeatedly called for the Mayor to start the formal process of investigating bus franchising as a way to deliver the service South Yorkshire needs, and I’m glad that this is now making progress.

“But more immediately we need some cast iron guarantees from providers about when services return properly, and we will seeking to get these at our emergency meeting."

For the latest local travel updates go to the Travel South Yorkshire website or follow @TSYalerts on Twitter.