Mayoral contender Richard Caborn looks to bring buses back into public control

Mayoral contender Richard Caborn looks to bring buses back into public control
Bus services across South Yorkshire could be brought back into public control if Richard Caborn is successfully elected South Yorkshire Mayor.

Richard Caborn met today with Sheffield Council’s Lead for Transport, Councillor Jack Scott, and discussed how buses could be re-regulated in the city. These powers could be extended across South Yorkshire, in consultation with local authorities.


New powers have been made available to re-regulate buses through the Bus Services Act 2017. This would enable South Yorkshire to improve the quality of local buses, with a single set of standards across all services. Re-regulation could see a return to the days of cheaper fares. In addition, timetables can be improved and routes redrawn to better connect outlying areas. The entire fleet of buses across South Yorkshire could even become the same colour and branded consistently.

Under a franchised system, like London’s, South Yorkshire could take control of bus planning, with services run under contract by private operators.

Currently South Yorkshire’s bus market is entirely deregulated, with most services provided by private firms. Councils and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive have very limited say over how they are run. This means private bus operators like First and Stagecoach set the majority of their own routes, frequencies, timetables, fares, and standards for most services.

Richard Caborn is currently seeking to be selected as the Labour Party candidate for elected Mayor of South Yorkshire. Launching his campaign last week, Caborn promised to improve transport in the region. He also pledged to fight for better and fairer transport funding, highlighting a key disparity that currently allows ten times as much transport investment to be allocated to London, compared with South Yorkshire.

Seeking Selection as Labour Candidate for South Yorkshire Mayor, Richard Caborn said:

“For too long our buses have been run for the profit of the operator and not for the benefit of passengers. Deregulation has been an unmitigated disaster and, as Mayor, I will work with councils across South Yorkshire to bring our buses back into public control.

“Many people across South Yorkshire rely on a good bus service and what they get from the private bus companies at the moment quite frankly isn’t good enough, we need big changes to services in our region and this will be a priority for me. Better transport is also a key part of growing our economy.

“New powers are available, which will allow South Yorkshire to create a more efficient and affordable bus network, taking us back to the days of cheaper bus fares, with the added opportunity to better link services with trams and trains.”

Sheffield Council’s Lead for Transport, Councillor Jack Scott, said:

“I fully support Richard’s campaign to become Labour’s candidate for South Yorkshire Mayor and I am glad to see that he is prioritising public transport in this bold way.

“Many people in Sheffield travel by bus and, at present, passengers are getting a raw deal. Quite simply, fares are too high, buses are too infrequent and vehicles are too polluting. We need real action. That’s why I believe these new available powers to re-regulate bus services must be implemented urgently and in my view, Richard is the right person with the experience to deliver this.”


£18m investment speeds up Sheffield buses

A £18.3 million investment to speed up Sheffield bus routes and cut congestion has seen some city journey times slashed by up to 25 per cent.

Highway improvements on key bus routes – including smarter signal controls, new bus lanes, junction upgrades, road widening and more cameras to better monitor the flow of traffic – in the city centre, north Sheffield, Gleadless, Meadowhead and on Penistone Road have also seen bus punctuality improvements of up to three per cent.

The work, designed to give buses priority and improve traffic management across Sheffield’s 187 bus routes, is part of the UK’s first designated ‘Better Bus Area’ scheme, delivered by Sheffield Bus Partnership since 2013 and funded by the Department for Transport.

Benefiting up to 55 million passengers a year, it combines money previously paid directly to bus operators with a Government grant, allowing the Partnership – made up of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), Sheffield City Council and local bus companies – to work together to improve bus journey times to provide regular and reliable services.

Sheffield City Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, Councillor Jack Scott, said: “Public transport is key to helping people travel in and around Sheffield, and a good quality bus service is vital in offering people choices in how they travel, and helping the City Council manage traffic congestion.

“We all want more jobs and homes provided for people, and the Better Buses Programme has made major contributions to improving conditions on our main roads – for buses and for car drivers, by making a series of highway improvements that benefit everyone.”

SYPTE Director of Public Transport, Ben Gilligan, said: “Buses are a vital public service and an effective bus network is an essential part of a vibrant economy – linking people to jobs, education, shops and leisure. Through the Better Bus Area scheme, Sheffield Bus Partnership is helping transport to move more efficiently on key city corridors, and in turn improving bus satisfaction and increasing passenger numbers to reduce carbon emissions and congestion for everyone.”

Co-location of bus operator and Council staff at the city’s Urban Traffic Control Centre, a move made possible through the scheme, also means information sharing and the ability to minimise disruption caused by road incidents is greatly improved.

Future improvements delivered by the five-year Better Bus Area scheme, which concludes in March 2018, include widening Chesterfield Road at Heeley and further improvements on the Barnsley Road Corridor.

Kevin Belfield, Managing Director of First South Yorkshire, said: “We’re pleased with the latest results, which show that bus journey times are being reduced, however it’s important that we don’t become complacent, as what really matters to our customers is our ability to run services punctually. We welcome the continued work to improve road infrastructure for public transport in Sheffield.”

Matt Davies, Managing Director of Stagecoach Yorkshire, added: “We welcome these results and are really pleased to see investment and improvements are helping to deliver benefits for passengers and contributing to a more efficient and attractive city transport network.

“However, improvements in journey time can easily be offset by increasing traffic levels and congestion which means that we must continue to keep up the momentum. Focusing on improving bus journey times is now even more essential than ever.”


Driving Forward: Better Buses for Sheffield