Sheffield region mayor Dan Jarvis launches bus service review
A review of how bus services are run across South Yorkshire has been ordered by the region's elected mayor. The year-long process launched by Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Sheffield City Region, will examine why bus usage in the county has fallen. Mr Jarvis said the review would also examine whether private bus companies were best placed to run services.
Private bus operator Stagecoach said it would oppose attempts to regulate bus services in South Yorkshire.
Sheffield MP Clive Betts will chair the review, which will gather evidence from bus passengers, operators and local politicians. Bus usage across Britain has been falling, with the number of journeys declining by 90 million in the past year from 4.9 billion to 4.8 billion.
In South Yorkshire, the number of weekly timetabled services has fallen by a quarter since 2014, according to data provided to the BBC's Inside Out programme by basemap.co.uk.
In the last week of January, bus operators in South Yorkshire planned to run 22,976 services, down from 32,290 in the same week in 2014.
Mr Jarvis said bus services in South Yorkshire had suffered from a lack of investment. "The privatisation of buses has not been successful here in South Yorkshire and across the north of England. What this review is looking to do is to try and identify why bus patronage has fallen."
Under the Bus Services Act 2017, metro mayors including Mr Jarvis have been given powers that would allow them to re-regulate bus services. If they decided to use the powers they could set bus timetables and fares, with bus companies then bidding to run franchises.
The new powers overturn a decision taken by the Thatcher government in 1985 to de-regulate bus services across Britain apart from in London.
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"There's no business that would like to see their right to trade suddenly removed from them" said Matt Davis, managing director of Stagecoach in South Yorkshire. For re-regulation to work we believe it would require councils to inject large amounts of money into the bus network, and we believe that is money that councils don't posses at the moment."