''Time for action' on Sheffield buses as new website lets passengers complain about city services easily
A Sheffield MP says that bus services in the city have deteriorated while the cost of tickets has risen - and they should be brought back into public ownership.
Louise Haigh, the Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, is hopeful that a new website will highlight the problem of bus services in the city, the impact that poor service has on traffic and air pollution as people turn to cars, and strengthen the argument for nationalisation of bus services.
Louise spoke to the Sheffield Telegraph on an 11a bus journey through Heeley this week, to explain the problems plaguing bus services and what can be done to address them.
She said: “Over the years the price has risen and risen as the service has deteriorated.
"People always hark back to those days when Sheffield bus services were reliable, Sheffield buses were far better quality and cheaper. I have seen that deteriorate over the years – the long term solution is to make sure our buses are publicly owned.
"Since Covid things have got markedly worse, particularly since children need to get to school on time.
"You have got private companies saying we don’t have enough people using them, pushing more and more cars onto the road. Particularly down places like London Road, traffic is completely unbearable.
"I don’t use the bus anywhere near as much as I would because they are not reliable enough. I work in London and I see the unimaginable difference there, they have a huge difference in investment in public transport.
“I use the tram more. We need to see trams better linked in with the bus network so people can hop off a bus and get onto the next tram.
"The nature of being a city of seven hills means that people are really reliant on public transport.
"I think it means if you live in a deprived area where you are less likely to own a car you rely more on public transport and the high cost cuts into your standard of living.”
There have been many complaints about Sheffield bus services, and changes to them, in recent years.
Louise has now helped to launch the new Better Buses website through which customers can easily complain when there is a problem with their Sheffield bus – even while they are at the bus stop waiting for a delayed service.
Users can access the website and easily input information explaining the route they were travelling on or the bus stop they were waiting at and explain what went wrong.
Louise’s office will then use the data from these complaints to demand improvements to bus services in the city.
She added: “It’s hard to complain to a bus company and they can just ignore it. The website was inspired by a friend of mine who gets the bus every day and was frustrated at the service.
"He works in IT and set up a spreadsheet of all the times this happened. It made me realise we were getting complaints from all over. “We want to have thousands of people using it across Sheffield. It will give us a thorough picture.
“The other issue is hate crime and racist abuse on public transport - local Muslim women feel quite anxious. People often don’t want to speak up publicly but the website ensures it is confidential.
“It will put pressure on bus companies and Dan Jarvis, mayor of South Yorkshire.
"Dan is going in the right direction and moving towards franchising - there is a huge amount of work that needs to happen to make the buses publicly owned - hopefully this will give him the tools to drive that change.
"People have suffered for too long and services have got worse, it’s time we took action.”
Another problems caused by poor user satisfaction with bus services is air pollution, as more people decide to use their cars instead of what they feel is unreliable public transport.
Data from Cycle Sheffield shows that in 2018 over 500,000 daily trips in the city were made by car or taxi, while fewer that 130,000 were made by bus.
Louise said: “This is of the worst polluting cities in the country. In certain parts it is at really high levels.
"Because of our industrial heritage we have people that suffer from lung diseases that are aggravated by air pollution.
"One way to tackle this in the long run is by improving public public transport.
"Investment in green buses needs to be a big priority.
“We should be doing everything we can to cut down on pollution.
"Some of the older bus services have really old buses that are highly polluting themselves.”
To access the better buses website and report a problem on a Sheffield bus, visit https://betterbuses.louisehaigh.org.uk/. It will also be available through Louise’s website.