£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.

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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.”

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Driving Forward: Better Buses for Sheffield

Launching Air Aware Campaign for Sheffield

A new campaign has been launched in Sheffield this week to raise awareness about air pollution.

The “Air Aware in Sheffield” campaign aims to inform members of the public about the different types of air pollution and the health risks associated with them, as well as giving people information on what they can do to help reduce air pollution in the city.

It is also intended that Air Aware in Sheffield, which will primarily focus on the biggest single source of air pollution – road traffic – will act as a platform to spark debate about air quality.

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for environment, recycling and streetscene at Sheffield City Council, said: “The key point here is that small changes can really reduce air pollution and enable better health for all.

“Air quality is an absolutely vital issue for all of us here in Sheffield. Regardless of where people live in the city, or whether they are drivers, cyclists, walkers or bus users, each and every one of us can play an important part.

“We’re not telling people to give up their vehicles – but what we are saying is if you have to drive, think about driving low emission vehicles such as gas, electric or hybrid cars or petrol cars instead of diesel. Also try ‘eco-driving’ techniques and think about ‘car sharing’, both of which will save you money on fuel, as well reducing emissions and improving air quality.

“It would be great if everybody could use their cars a little less, and cycle or walk a little more. Even giving up the car just one day a week would make a huge difference.”

The campaign aims to raise particular awareness about two air pollutants; nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM10), which mainly come from road traffic.

Poor air quality has been estimated to account for up to 500 premature deaths per year in Sheffield, with health costs of around £160m per year. It has short and long-term health impacts, particularly for respiratory and cardiovascular health.

Those people who are particularly sensitive and are exposed to the highest levels of pollution have an estimated reduction in life expectancy by as much as nine years.

Like many other major UK cities, in some parts of Sheffield both national and European Union health based thresholds for air quality are currently being breached.

A lot of work is already being done to try and address this problem. This includes working with local community action groups across the city involved in campaigning for cleaner air, working to our Air Quality Action Plan and developing plans to implement a Low Emission Zone Strategy in Sheffield by working with partners such as the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), local bus operators, local taxi operators and local commercial fleet operators to reduce emissions.

However, the support of each and every person in the city would go a huge way to helping Sheffield achieve its goal of reducing nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate pollution, to improve the health of local people and comply with regulations.

Cllr Scott added: “A modern, vibrant city needs to have a high-quality environment, including cleaner air and cleaner transport, for the benefit of local people and also in order to attract people to the city for work or leisure.

“Sheffield aspires to be a city where health inequalities are reduced and air is healthy for all to breathe.”

A bus advertising campaign, which is part of Air Aware in Sheffield, has already been launched, with adverts on the back of eco-friendly hybrid vehicles. Radio advertising and poster campaigns will begin in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, dedicated Twitter and Facebook sites are also being set up so that people can find out more and get involved. Find them at www.facebook.com/airawaresheffield and @AirAwareSheff

For further information visit the new website at www.sheffield.gov.uk/airaware