Skip to content

Agenda item

Sheffield City Region - Review of Bus Services

Jo Kaczmarek, Sheffield City Region, to report




The Committee received a report from Jo Kaczmarek (Mayoral Manifesto Policy Lead and Bus Review Secretariat, Sheffield City Region (SCR)), which was circulated at the meeting, and which provided an overview of the South Yorkshire Bus Review.  The report contained an update on the progress of the Review, together with information on the approach to the Review, including evidence collation and key lines of enquiry, and an indicative timeline.




Ms Kaczmarek referred specifically to the purpose of the Review, highlighting the fact that it was being undertaken in order to provide the SCR Mayor (Dan Jarvis) with an independent assessment of (a) the current condition of the commercial bus and community transport sector in South Yorkshire, including the reasons for the decline in both registered bus services and bus passenger numbers, (b) the social, environmental and economic impacts of this decline in bus services and passenger numbers and (c) the steps which should be taken to ensure commercial bus and community transport services met the needs of South Yorkshire residents.  She reported briefly on how Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Review, would be ensuring that it independently considered all the evidence available to fulfil its purpose, and stood up to scrutiny.




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·             It was expected that following the Review, there would be a set of clear recommendations against each of the powers the Sheffield City Region Mayor has under the Bus Services Act, which could include enhanced partnership, together with recommendations seeking to address other issues, regardless of the model of operation, such as air quality and declining passenger numbers.




·             Both Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield would be consulted as part of the Review, which would include discussions with both the Universities’ Student Unions, specifically with regard to the recent decline in student patronage. 




·             The closing date for the call for evidence was 6th September 2019, but there would be further sessions arranged after that date in order to look at the submissions in more detail, and Councillors would be informed of the dates and locations of such sessions.




·             Whilst it was expected that there would be a number of specific recommendations within the powers of the Bus Services Act, it was believed that the Panel would list a number of short, medium and long-term recommendations. These could include recommendations regarding the best method of simplifying fare structures, possibly South Yorkshire-wide, as well as recommendations that apply to specific local authority areas or routes. Biographies of the Panel Members could be provided on request, to highlight the balance of the Panel.




·             Discussions had been held with the Nexus Partnership, in Tyne and Wear, specifically to look at the lessons learnt, following a similar review in that area, and where the SCR was offered some very useful advice on the merits of having a strong evidence behind the Review.




·             Whilst representatives from the large bus operators would be consulted as stakeholders, as part of the Review, they had not been invited to be members of the Panel.  It had been accepted that there was a need to work collaboratively with all the bus operators.




·             Every attempt would be made to seek the views of as many people as possible, including the ‘hard to reach’ groups, and those who were most dependent on buses.  SCR would welcome the support of Councillors in terms of helping with this process, and offered to meet with any groups identified by Councillors.  There were also plans to contact the regional Members of Parliament as part of the consultation.  It was accepted that there was a need for a better connected transport system, including better links between buses, trams and trains, and this would be considered as part of the Review.




·             It was believed that there was a question in the survey, asking people, if they didn’t use buses, why not.  Preliminary results of the survey had indicated the main reasons for people not using buses was due to journey times, buses not serving their area and complicated and/or expensive fares. These preliminary results could be shared with Councillors. Ms Kaczmarek indicated that she would be prepared to come back to the Committee with assurances that there was nothing missing from the consultation that Councillors were seeking to address, and, in the event of there being something missing, these issues could be picked up through the Focus Groups.




·             Given the views expressed by the SCR Mayor in his manifesto, particularly his views on franchising, there was always a possibility that the final outcome may clash with such views.




·             A number of bus routes and bus times in Sheffield had specifically been designed due to the City’s topography.  It was accepted that this had resulted in some services not being accessible in some areas.  It had also been accepted that there was a need for changes to ticketing and integration.




·             As part of the Review, all operators had been asked to provide detailed information on routes and times of their services, which would hopefully result in improvements to reliability and better access by residents.




·             It was accepted that, on some buses, the information on the front, displaying the number and destination, could be clearer, and this would be considered as part of the Review.




·             Whilst it was not possible to comment on business decisions of any of the larger bus operators, it was stated that there were a number of other companies who had expressed an interest in running their operations in South Yorkshire.




·             The Review would cover the whole of South Yorkshire, with similar discussions being held in each of the four areas.  However, given the individual aspects of each of the four areas, such as socio-economic and topographical issues, specific discussions would be held in this regard.  SCR would also be looking at the lessons learnt following similar reviews in Tyne and Wear and in Nottingham, with regard to good practice.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)      notes the contents in the report now circulated, together with the comments now made, and the responses to the questions raised;




(b)      thanks Jo Kaczmarek for attending the meeting, and responding to the questions raised, and requests that she provides (i) biographies of the Panel Members, (ii) the email address of Louise Haigh, MP and (iii) confirmation of any gaps in the survey;




(c)      recommends the extension of the deadline for the call for  evidence, to allow for the summer holidays; and




(d)      requests Members to make every effort to ensure that their constituents complete the questionnaire, as part of the consultation, and let Jo Kaczmarek know if they want to attend any of the specific meetings with community groups.