By Reina Fujimoto @rain_nah
Sheffield bus operators admitted to having problems in their new bus services at a public meeting on Monday.
Representatives from First, Stagecoach and TM Travel appeared at Sheffield Town Hall to hear complaints about the changes in timetables and routes they made in November last year.
Councillor Terry Fox chaired the meeting, which started with members of the public addressing their questions.
Maureen Scott, from Crabtree, asked: “Have you ever gone on the buses? Do you realise what kind of mess you have made?”
Alan Curley, a member of Sheffield 50plus, a group dedicated for those over 50 living in Sheffield, asked: “Where is the feedback to make sure it’s working right? Why don’t they form a meeting every month and we can come along and discuss.”
But these questions were left unanswered.
Bus operators had prepared a presentation to explain that their bus services have been gradually improving since November.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive Stephen Edwards admitted that the November changes highlighted a number of performance issues.
Paul Lynch, who is the managing director of Stagecoach Yorkshire, explained that their priorities are reliability, partnership, and customer satisfaction, and that the changes were not made lightly.
“We acknowledge that the early days were bad. To some extent there is always going to be problems in the early days.”
Kevin Belfield, who is the managing director of First South Yorkshire, admitted to punctuality problems after the initial changes in November.
“I’m hearing very loud and clear that people are having problems going to and from town, to and from the doctors’.
“I’m very serious about running punctual services.”
He also said that bus operators have made more changes in January and February, and ever since, punctuality has been improving week by week.
After the meeting the bus operator representatives again answered specific questions from individuals.
Joanne Lumley, who initiated a petition with over 12,000 signatures to reverse the changes, was not satisfied with the meeting.
She said that the operators are being “reactive rather than proactive.”
“[The operators] have got to start listening to their customers. They haven’t answered anything. They have just gone round and round.”
Around 60 people attended the meeting, with most being elderly or disabled.