Passengers face effect of travel cuts

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The end of the road for Sheffield’s free city centre bus service, the scaling back of pensioner and disabled bus concessions and the scrapping of their free train travel are in line for confirmation today (Thursday).

A package of cutbacks has been drawn up by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to help save 10% of its budget over the next year. Increases in community transport fares are also on the agenda - but children’s fares are set to be frozen.

Coun Mick Jameson, chairman of South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, which oversees the work of SYPTE, said: “We don’t like having to raise fares and cut services, but when your budgets are being slashed then there isn’t a deal of choice.”

The subsidised freebee bus service, which runs six days a week around Sheffield city centre, a successor to the City Clipper, is due to end in April after six years.

It will be a blow to the council, which has been looking to the free buses to carry market shoppers from their traditional destination of Castlegate to the new markets on The Moor.

Meanwhile, pensioners and disabled bus passengers are likely to find they cannot use their concessionary bus passes until 9.30am instead of 9am on weekdays from April 1, bringing South Yorkshire into line with the rest of the country outside London.

Their SYPTE free train travel is due to be dropped altogether, although a spokesman said: “Rail passengers will still have the opportunity to engage with the rail operators own concessionary travel schemes or national scheme such as Senior Railcard and Disabled Railcard or chose to travel by bus at no cost.”

Evening, weekend and rural bus services funded by SYPTE are being protected, and talks are being held with operators with a view to introducing new young persons’ daily and weekly tickets.

Over the past three years, SYPTE has had its budget slashed by more than £17m. Another £8.3m is being cut, with more job losses expected.