Transport Chiefs in South Yorkshire have been awarded a grant of £18.3 million of Government funding to further improve bus services and information across Sheffield.
Following the success of the recently launched Sheffield Bus Partnership, Transport Minister Norman Baker today [26 February] announced that the Department for Transport (DfT) has granted the money. South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) bid on behalf of the Sheffield Bus Partnership to enable Sheffield to become the first Better Bus Area and trail-blaze this national scheme.
The grant combines money already paid directly to bus operators with new Government funding, which together will be invested in improving bus services and traffic management across Sheffield.
The Better Bus Area scheme is a new Government policy designed to promote economic growth and reduce emissions by improving bus services for passengers. The local bid, developed in partnership with operators, aims to improve access to jobs and services across the Sheffield City Council area.
The additional £18.3 million funding will allow further developments to be made in three key areas:
- Improvements to infrastructure used by routes in the city centre, such as Gleadless, Meadowhead, Heeley Bottom, Parkway and in north Sheffield
- Improvements to traffic control to reduce bottlenecks
- An extension to the provision of audio visual equipment on buses
Proposals, based on recent market research and consultations, also include revenue schemes to reduce costs for operators to minimise future fare increases, highways improvements along Ecclesall Road, and technology to better control traffic signals and give priority to buses.
David Young, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive Director of Customer Experience, said: "We are delighted to have been able to work closely with Sheffield Bus Partnership bus operators, and other operators, to secure this significant further investment, especially during these tough economic times. An effective bus network is an essential part of a vibrant economy and the Better Bus Area grant will help get transport moving more efficiently on key corridors in Sheffield, support employment and improve air quality for everyone.
"We are committed to providing the best possible transport network for this part of the Sheffield City Region and this additional funding means SYPTE has secured inward investment in excess of £150 million in the last two years."
To become a successful Better Bus Area, The Sheffield Bus Partnership’s proposals had to demonstrate:
- Good value for money
- Patronage growth and emission benefits
- Reduced wait journey times
- Support of local operators
The bid submission built on the successful work that led to the Sheffield Bus Partnership, a groundbreaking agreement which sees SYPTE and Sheffield City Council working together with local bus operators (First, Stagecoach and Sheffield Community Transport) to improve the bus network and see many passengers paying lower fares.
Giles Fearnley, First UK Bus Managing Director, said: "This is very good news. The members of the Partnership, working together, have already made great strides in improving the quality of bus services but we have plans to do a lot more. This funding will give a real boost to us being able to deliver on these further improvements, benefiting passengers across Sheffield."
Paul Lynch, Managing Director of Stagecoach Yorkshire, said: "We welcome the news that our joint Better Bus Area bid has been successful. We believe the introduction of this UK-first scheme is further good news for bus customers across Sheffield, following the introduction of the Bus Partnership last year which has already delivered improvements to bus passengers in the city. The announcement of this scheme shows a strength and confidence in the Sheffield Bus Partnership and will result in further investment in Sheffield's bus network. We look forward to attracting even more people on to our greener, smarter bus services."
Ian Jenkinson, Sheffield Community Transport (SCT) General Manager, said: "This funding will provide a real boost to the work the Partnership has already undertaken and will lead to further improvements for bus passengers across the city."