Bus passengers asked to rank fare support ahead of next round of South Yorkshire cuts

Bus cuts protesters with their petition outside Sheffield Interchange
Bus cuts protesters with their petition outside Sheffield Interchange

Bus passengers in South Yorkshire are being asked to prioritise fare support given to children, OAPs and the disabled in a new consultation on cuts.

The consultation from South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive was launched just days after controversial cuts to many Sheffield services were agreed last week..

It asks passengers to ‘indicate the importance’ they would give to discretionary concessions available - including 70p child fares, free elderly travel on bus and tram and half price travel on trains, as well as free disabled travel on all three.

Another question asks passengers how they would travel if the executive ‘chose to increase the price of a child’s ticket from 70p to 80p in April 2016?’ with similar questions about removing half price rail travel and free tram travel for OAPs or reducing disabled concessions to ‘purely’ the national concessionary scheme.

The executive says that ‘no decisions’ have been made and it is running the consultation as it will need to make more budget cuts, following reductions in funding since 2010, next year.

David Young, interim director general, said: “We’re running the Have Your Say consultation to allow us to understand in more detail what it is that the community of South Yorkshire require from the key aspects of their public transport services, which are funded by the taxpayer.

“While no one likes difficult choices, you have to match what you spend to the money available.”

However the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders, who campaigned against cuts to concessionary travel last year, has called for the executive to not cut services and to also ensure the consultation reaches more people.

Tony Nuttall, from the Barnsley Retirees Action Group, said: “We are very unhappy with the divisive nature of the consultation.

“By inviting people to prioritise between support for the transport needs of older people, disabled people and younger people, the consultation sets one group against another. Nowhere does it allow people to say that support for all of these groups is equally important or what is in the best interests of the community as a whole.”

The consultation ends on October 4. Forms are available from interchange customer service desks and can also be completed at www.sypte.co.uk/haveyoursay.

A series of drop in sessions will also be held across South Yorkshire to allow the public to ask questions about the next round of bus cuts.

The eight events will take place between next Wednesday September 16 and Friday October 2.

Staff from South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive will be available to answer questions and help passengers fill in consultation forms.

The first event is at Sheffield interchange in the city centre, from 3-5.30pm on the 16th.

On Friday September 18 there will be another at the Arundel Gate interchange in Sheffield from 8am until 10,30am.

In Barnsley there will be a session at the town’s interchange on Monday September 21, from 8am until 10.30am, and there will be another held at Rotherham interchange on Thursday September 24 from 3pm to 5.30pm.

Doncaster bus passengers can attend an event at the town’s interchange on Friday September 25 from 8am until 10.30am, and there will be one at Meadowhall interchange on Tuesday September 29 from 3pm to 5.30pm.

The final two drop in workshops will at Dinnington interchange on Thursday October 1, and at Hillsborough interchange on Friday October 2, both from 8am until 10.30am.

Thousands of people took part in a separate consultation run by Sheffield Bus Partnership in July, which led to dozens of services across Sheffield being revised, rerouted, reduced or renumbered in a 10 per cent cut to the entire network.

However the original plans were revised and their impact lessened as a result of feedback from the public.

The consultation response was also said to be the biggest of its kind received by transport chiefs when they met to decide the cuts one week ago today.

Those agreed changes - which will reduce the number of 70 services which travel from Dore to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital as well as cutting the 19 from Heeley Green to Chancet Wood to run only every hour - are to come into force from the end of October.

Mr Young added: “We are publicising the consultation across South Yorkshire, and while we would encourage people to save paper and complete the consultation online, for those who prefer we have already printed over 3,500 paper copies of the consultation and will continue to print to meet demand.

“Experienced staff will be on hand to answer questions at all drop-ins and also to help people complete the form if needed. Drop ins are advertised in booklets, leaflets, posters and online.

!We have also sent information to over 1,000 stakeholders in South Yorkshire.”