There’s been an appalling drop in bus service reliability in Sheffield over the last few months. Complaints going unanswered and little improvement. This needs challenging!

Green party activist James Martin writes: “It has become clear we need to work together. I’ve also found it is possible if good records of complaints are kept to seek enforcement action from the Traffic Commissioners.”

The Green Transport group cannot handle your complaint, but we can help people be aware they are not alone if you Copy us in on e-mails. With a better overview of how many routes and areas are suffering we can share an overview to support each other. Here’s what to do.

  1. Keep a weekly record of all late and missing buses. You might find it useful to use this template table.
    (i.e. more than 5 minutes late or if it doesn’t come before the next one due then it is missing)
  2. At the end of the week, send an email to the relevant bus company for each route, CC in SYPTE(1) and the Sheffield Green Party transport group. Please do use the template in item 1 to layout your complaint. (Keep the emails you send they might be needed as evidence!)
  3. The bus company for your route should deal with the complaint. They have 14 working days to reply.
    Note: SYPTE only log/forward complaints and can compile statistics.
  4. If you do not hear from the company then…
    Contact Bus Users UK(2) with your complaint, stating you have not received a response or why it was inadequate and highlighting the broader issues. They will advise you on the next steps.
  5. Keep sending one weekly email to everyone (Until there are few or no issues!)

Please note you might not hear directly from the Sheffield Green Party Transport group depending on the volume of e-mails but we will periodically publish updates and might send a generic e-mail encouraging you to update us on how your complaint was handled by the operator.


  1. SYPTE = South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive is the public body which liaises with the bus companies (but not complaints!). It has little power and even less money to support services. (thanks to government cuts in funding!).
  2. Bus Users UK is the independent body which can access mechanisms for enforcement action on Scheduled Bus services. They will be able to advise on the next steps.

Other bus operator contact details:

Complaint template

Make sure to replace all the items in square brackets with information.

Dear sir/madam,

I am writing to you to complain about the following bus services this week. I am seeking action and a reply from the Operator and CCing others for their complaint statistics.

The following buses were missing departing from [Stop name] towards [Route Number] [Destination]:

Date        Timetable Time         Actual Departure time
[Date]      [Timetable Time]         [or state if you gave up]

The service ran late on the following occasions from [Stop name] towards [Route Number]:

Date        Timetable Time         Actual Time service arrived
[Date]      [Timetable Time]         [Actual Time]

I am very [annoyed] by the poor service this week and would like to know how you as the Operator are going to make this situation right for me and other long suffering passengers. I look forward to your reply within the next 14 working days or there is insufficient explanation and information for making improvements I will raise this matter with Bus Users UK.

Yours sincerely,

Download bus complaints template (pdf)

Download bus complaints template (Word)


The Sheffield Green Party welcomes all comments but we will not be held responsible for any user comments. We do reserve the right not to publish comments that may cause offence.

2 thoughts on “Make bus complaints count in South Yorkshire!

  1. Martin Haills says

    Hi I’m really glad somebody is taking the atrocious bus service in Sheffield serious, and recognises something needs doing. I have on many occasions done exactly what you say noted times and missing buses when I’ve need to catch a bus. But the thing is you have a company investing it own complaints. Surely what needs to be done is the complaints be looked at by the person/ persons who awarded the contracts to second rate bus companies, and then those companies told to improve services or lose the contract of running buses in Sheffield. Surely somebody from Sheffield city council must know the terrible state of bus services throughout our city.

  2. Simon Geller says

    The problem with Martin’s suggestion above is that, since the de-regiulation of the buses under Margaret Thatcher (everywhere except London) most bus companies don’t run under contract. Apart from a few “socialy necessary” services that are contracted out by the PTE, the bus companies run the services themselves for profit. The only constraints they are under is the location of bus stops and road system itself – they have done quite well at persuading local authorities to improve bus priority measures and they have taken advantage of government funding programmes such as “Better Buses”, but the requirements on them to stick to stated service levels are pretty lax.

    This is quite different from the rail network where, up until the coronavirus crisis, the franchises were let by the government with the requirement to run to a specified service level. Currently trains are effectively being run by the Department for Transport and is doubtful that we will go back to the previous franchise system, which was under review anyway.

    Under the Bus Services Act 2017, local authorities can work with bus companies in two different ways: Bus Partnerships and Bus Franchises. Under Bus Partnerships, which is effectively what we have in Sheffield, the power that the LA or PTE has to force companies to run to a service level is very limited. Bus Franchises are few and far between, and where council’s have tried to bring them in, such as in Newcastle, bus operators have threatened to pull out of those cities entirely.

    So the way to complain about a bus service is through the steps we’ve set out above We appreciate this is long-winded and we are looking at ways to simplify it.

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