Toby Mallinson with an 81 bus
Toby Mallinson with an 81 bus

After massive bus service cuts across South Yorkshire in October, the planned removal of government Covid-support subsidies on April 1st threatens a lot more. It’s no longer just rural services under threat. Now all areas of Sheffield are suffering bus service cuts.

The high-frequency, double-decker, 52a no longer goes beyond Hillsborough Interchange. The replacement is the daytime only, unreliable, infrequent, low capacity, 31 service which does not run on Sundays. This has hit all groups of bus users in Wisewood and Loxley communities very hard:

– For working people, the loss of a frequent, reliable, direct service to the city centre and key employers like Hallamshire Hospital. It will force some people to drive when we need to reduce car use to meet the city’s climate change targets.

-For many older and vulnerable people, the loss of a frequent, 7 days a week option for daily shopping, medical appointments or just getting out of the house. If the 31 fails to turn up or is full, you have a one-hour wait. This happens frequently and is particularly harsh in cold weather.

-For school students and parents, the loss of their direct 52a service to central secondary schools.

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has taken more control over buses in his region by introducing franchising. South Yorkshire’s new mayor, Oliver Coppard, has understood how bad our buses are unlike his predecessor Dan Jarvis. He’s started applying for similar franchising powers but it’s a long process. We must keep up the pressure on Coppard and the councils which make up the mayoral authority to ensure we get back public control, rather than the unregulated chaos we have at present.

I’d like to thank local community activist Nicola Feetham whose 52a petition with more than 2300 signatures has kept up the pressure to provide vital services in the Hillsborough area. Also Better Buses for South Yorkshire who continue to campaign relentlessly on our behalf.

Hillsborough Greens have asked the mayor to make a more frequent 31 service a funding priority. Greens across South Yorkshire will not give up pushing the mayor, bus companies and the Tory Government to provide the investment and services we need across all local communities.

Toby Mallinson

Council Election candidate, Hillsborough Green Party