Agenda item

South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority Transport - Update


Andy Wright, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) gave the following update:-


-        The Government funding would end in October, 2022


-        A substantial procurement tendering process had commenced which formed 2 key components.  Firstly, some additional home to school transport which was being withdrawn from September the tenders for which were due back by 29th July.  Secondly a substantial tender round for local bus services


-        A consultation process was to be launched, hosted by the SYMCA, starting on Saturday, 30th July and run for a 4 weeks’ period.  Elected Members were encouraged to engage with and encourage their constituents to participate in the consultation which would inform the purchase and retainment of the services under tender.  As the pre-Covid network level could not be support due to the finance not being available, the different services were being segmented by the different times of the day they needed to be funded i.e. the tenders would be for  early morning, week day, evening and Sunday.  This would help ensure those services that were a priority could be provided and funded; those priorities would be informed by the consultation


-        The Group would be kept informed with regard to the tender process.  However, the tendering process would be repeated in April 2023; the current round was a stop gap measure in light of the funding ending in October


-        There was a national shortage of labour that had particularly hit some of local operators more significantly.  Traditionally people who had worked in the industry for a long time were leaving and leaving faster than replacements could be trained them e.g. it took one week for a driver to leave but 12 weeks to train


-        Some operators were choosing to address historic problems with regard to the sustainability problems of their networks


-        As yet patronage had not returned to pre-Covid levels and had plateaued at approximately 70%.  ENCTS travel was approximately 55-60% depending on which area in terms of pre-Covid


Discussion ensued on the factors that were taken into consideration with regard to commerciality of bus routes which included planning permissions for new housing estates, road schemes to alleviate road congestion and fixed routes.  In the short/medium term the emphasis was on maintaining continuity of service to the customer base but in the longer term a range of factors were considered and were being actively considered such as community transport, demand responsive services and flexible transport arrangements.  How transport services were delivered needed to evolve over time to meet the needs of communities.


The Mayoral Combined Authority had commissioned a piece of work on bus franchising which would effectively bring the procurement and specification of groups, timetables and areas back under local decision making.  That process would run its own path and be a decision from the MCA and the 4 South Yorkshire Leaders whether to proceed or not and would take 3-4 years.  It would be a significant policy choice but one that the MCA had chosen to investigate again in terms of how South Yorkshire could have more ownership in determining what best suited its communities’ needs across the county.


Agreed:-  That the update be noted.


Andy Wright left the meeting at this point.