(1) First Group
(3) Rotherham Community Transport
Paul Hopkinson provided an update on First Group services including:-
· No major planned changes between now and the start of the funding.
· Staffing - improving picture on the journeys operating from Doncaster with no planned cancellations.
· Looking to reduce the number of planned cancellations in Sheffield from the 4th April when school holidays start and running this to an eventual complete network.
· In terms of schools in Rotherham this was fairly quiet and no operation issues had been raised.
· Currently running 65% and 70% patronage and probably more worrying ENCTS mid to late 50% south Yorkshire figure.
John Young provided an update on Stagecoach services including:-
· Passenger numbers were around 66% compared to those pre-Covid.
· Concessions were the difficult market to encourage back to using the bus and were around the low 50%’s.
· Staffing had much improved and some changes had been made at the end of October to give customers confidence on the bus network. All mileage in Rotherham was running consistently and it was unusual to lose a journey which the operators were proud of.
· The consistent reliable service for customers’ confidence was now established and back in place.
· The additional funding had been confirmed for the next six months. It had been made clear by the DfT this was last round and it could mean making some potential difficult decisions following recovery, whilst recognising the world had changed since the pandemic. Work was taking place with Local Authority colleagues to ensure the best solutions were provided for a sustainable network. This could mean less buses and having to work smarter.
· This will require some transition planning over the next six months in preparation.
· Work was also taking place with colleagues in Rotherham to understand fully and discuss plans to deal with the requirements of the clean air zone in Rawmarsh on Rawmarsh Hill and the implications for bus services, with little change of significance at this stage.
Clarification was sought on the lack of updates by Councillor Bacon to the relevant operators’ apps when buses had been cancelled and how information was also not available in Rotherham Interchange. An explanation was provided on how this was updated and the how real time information was fed through. The Interchange should also receive up-to-date displays pushed through by operators.
It was suggested that this be investigated further by the relevant operators to ensure expectations were being realised and for this information to Elected Members accordingly.
The app updates were welcomed by some Members and Councillor Atkin had personal experiences within in his own family. He did ask if, however, with the ever-increasing fuel prices whether operators saw it as an opportunity to encourage more patrons back to public transport.
Operators were mindful of the increase in fuel prices, but acknowledged the challenge for people to replace their own vehicle with public transport on top of all the other cost pressures.
Further information was sought on the design of bus routes by Councillor Bennett-Sylvester, how these were co-ordinated and connectively factored in for patrons who may need a service as hospital visiting time finished, at the end of the school/college day and in the evening especially if buses were running late.
The Group were advised the design of routes was not straightforward in the design of a timetable. Attempts were made to make it easy for patrons to make services run at the same minutes past the hour for example, or integrate with other services on a section of route.
This was more problematic where a service commencing in another area and then needed to be co-ordinated with other services as it crossed over the border like in the Dearne Valley then coming into Parkgate. It was not always possible to get a perfect solution.
It was a judgement call especially when trying to cater for a shift change or hospital visiting times in evenings and in both directions. It was a challenge and any feed back was welcomed.
The Group were also advised that the SYMCA did fund all evenings, early mornings and weekends along the hospital corridor which was proving difficult when budgets were reduced and costs continued to rise.
Every effort was made to co-ordinate the best service available, but this did mean that some services missed connections. However, if the Elected Members had any specific areas they knew were problematic if they could feed this in every effort would be made to tweak services where possible.
One of the challenges was the limited bus priority corridors and heavily congested routes. The Maltby corridor was working successfully, but not so much at Dinnington at the moment.
Any anomalies operators welcomed any suggested feedback.
Rotherham Community Transport
Nathan Broadhead provided an update which included:-
· Usage levels were significantly lower due to the majority of users being elderly. However, there were plenty of booking opportunities available.
· The service continued to be offered for vaccination appointments completely free.
· Community transport was there to be used for access to service and was heavily subsidised with a small fee.
Any Council wishing to have details about community transport should contact Nathan Broadhead direct and he would provide details.
Members welcomed the support and service provided by Community Transport especially for the vaccinations for vulnerable residents and it was requested that this message be forwarded on.
Clarification was sought by Councillor Keenan on whether Community Transport could be used for elderly groups and it was suggested that details be emailed through as the service was available for hire for multi-pickups going to one designated point.
Questions were also raised by Councillor Havard on how easy it would be for people using mobility scooters to get onto the transport and the challenges being faced with their size. It was pointed out that this would need to be agreed with the Community Transport provider and booked in advance so it was clear on passenger requirements and be considered on an individual case by case basis. There was also the option of when visiting Rotherham Town Centre to hire from the mobility centre.
Further information was sought on discounted passes for young people and their usage. It was confirmed that child concession funding was received from all districts who administered the discounted 80p bus fare. This was valid on public transport across South Yorkshire with no restriction at peak times, weekends, and evenings. In addition, operations offered multi-buy tickets for unlimited usage for the week with little to no extra cost. The Travel SY website provided full information.
Agreed:- That the update be received and the contents noted.