On Tuesday 11th November Councillor George Lindars-Hammond, Labour Councillor for Hillsborough, met with First’s new Director for South Yorkshire, Ian Humphreys.
This was in response to the severe reduction in bus services, with First Group reducing services throughout Hillsborough ward, including the cancellation of the 52A serving Wisewood and Loxley.
The replacement services are far less frequent and do not run in the early mornings or evening, and there is now no service at all on Sundays.
Alongside Council Leader Terry Fox, Cllr Lindars-Hammond put the concerns of residents direct to Mr Humphreys to demand that these communities are once again properly served.
At the meeting it was stated that First Group have no current plans to reverse this decision – sighting both financial and staffing issues.
However, assurances were given that there are no further plans to cut services in the city, and that First will meet with local councillors and members of the public much more frequently to understand local concerns.
Cllr George Lindars-Hammond:
“I am immensely disappointed that First have not changed their decision, and have no current plans to bring back the 52a to it’s previous services.
“Government have a lot to answer for here – they have slashed funding for public transport, making whole bus routes less financially viable.
“The whole bus system needs radical overhaul. It is a broken system which allows private transport providers to reap only the benefits – picking just the profitable routes.”
“This is why for many years Labour councillors have called for bus franchising, so there is much greater local control – to determine which routes need to be served. This would have prevented the wholesale reduction in services we have seen throughout the city.
“The new Mayor, Oliver Coppard, is undertaking franchising, but it could take a couple of years till this is up and running. Government needs to speed-up the process, but we also need urgent short-term solutions.
“It is simply outrageous that Hillsborough – and in particular residents in Wisewood and Loxley – have been let down by buses.
“As a council we’re working hard to implement important sustainability schemes such as Active Travel and the Clean Air Zone, but cuts to buses massively undermine our intentions and the wider environmental and connectivity plans we’re striving towards.
“I will continue to speak up for residents and fight for proper public transport. I am planning a public meeting for the residents of Wisewood on bus services and want to hear from as many residents as possible”.
A petition has also been launched calling on government to think again about their cuts and to invest in the city’s buses. You can sign the petition here – www.stoptorybuscuts.com