Sheffield on the right road thanks to bus agreement

Buses on Sheffield's High Street
Buses on Sheffield's High Street

Sheffield’s drive to improve bus services was hailed nationally this week - as moves for passengers to use electronic ‘smart cards’ for payment gather speed.

The partnership between bus companies and authorities - credited with improving reliability, lowering some fares and increasing passenger numbers - won two industry UK Bus Awards and was runner-up in a third category.

It’s a major boost for the initiative that was drawn up voluntarily as an alternative to bus operators coming under stronger central control.

Launched just over a year ago, it brought together South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, the council and bus operators First, Stagecoach and Sheffield Community Transport.

The partnership was described as “historic” by then Transport Minister Norman Baker, and the speed with which it has delivered results has resulted in a £18.3m Government grant to further improve services.

The two top UK Bus Awards were for ‘Making Buses a Better Choice’ and ‘Local Authority Project of the Year’. Runner-up was for innovation.

Meanwhile, the PTE announced this week that plans are progressing to introduce ‘smart cards’ for buses, trams and trains over the next year.

The system will allow passengers to use them instead of paper tickets, eventually being able to add credit online, on mobile phones and at kiosks across South Yorkshire.

Many buses have already been fitted with the equipment to process ‘smart’ transactions, and hand held devices are available to be used by tram conductors.

A roll out will begin with the annual ‘TravelMaster’.