COLUMN: Bus cuts are a self-perpetuating mess

Bus timetable and route changes cause chaos for travellers in Sheffield'Picture Dean Atkins
Bus timetable and route changes cause chaos for travellers in Sheffield'Picture Dean Atkins

Bus cuts - you wait for one and then three come along at once.

Today’s front page reports on yet more changes to public transport in Sheffield, which are due to arrive in September.

Hendrika Stephens

Hendrika Stephens

Star readers, and long-suffering passengers, will know that it is less than a year since the last wave of disastrous bus cuts came in, causing weeks of chaos.

Long queues snaked past bus stops, confused elderly passengers struggled to get home, commuters could not get to work, youngsters had to change buses three times to get to school.

Some people said they were cut off entirely from vital services such as shops and health services.

Apart from the long-running controversy over the felling of Sheffield highway trees it was probably the most high profile issue of 2015.

Chesterfield Road shop front

Chesterfield Road shop front

Now it looks set to start all over again.

Sheffield Bus Partnership - made up of the council, operators and transport chiefs - is planning to scrap some school buses, massively reduce some in Tinsley from three times an hour to once, and re-route others or revise the timetables.

The issue has come to light after Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts looked at the proposed changes and realised how they would affect constituents.

“This will have a dramatic effect on the local community”, he said.

Too right it will. What is worrying is why these changes - just like the last set - have not been widely advertised.

There is a public consultation taking place, but who knows about it?

And why are they happening in the first place?

An email seen by The Star indicates that some of the changes will improve punctuality. They won’t improve the punctuality of Tinsley residents to their appointments, that’s for sure.

Perhaps it comes down to money. Services aren’t commercially viable, they always say.

It’s not surprising in cases where buses have been cut that fewer people use them - because they can’t rely on a shoestring service to get somewhere in time. So there’s less revenue to keep buses going and people have to buy a car. And all this in a city with a terrible air pollution problem. One of the worst affected areas? Tinsley. It’s a self-perpetuating mess.

Last year it was only people power that made a difference and resulted in some alterations to the planned bus cuts. Let’s hope it can have the same effect this time around.