Despite increasing numbers of cities seeing the real benefits of Bus Partnerships, Sheffield Liberal Democrats are still opposing them. Along with their Green Party allies, they’re continuing to advocate the outdated ‘Quality Contract’ model for bus service provision, despite it being more costly for the taxpayer and less responsive to the wishes of the travelling public.
Their position is so wrong, even their own Transport Secretary – Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker – opposes them! In a recent policy document – ‘Green Light for Better Buses’ – he wrote:
“…recognises the welcome difference that partnerships are making up and down the country. Collaborations between local authorities, operators and passengers are helping co-ordinate timetables in Liverpool, Oxford and Sheffield…They are succeeding because they combine local knowledge of what passengers want in their area with the resources to make a difference.”
A Voluntary Bus Partnership – a key policy of Sheffield Labour Party – is by far the best way to run the city’s bus system, as it is more affordable, better integrated with other transport options, and much more in tune with the needs of the bus users of Sheffield. Furthermore, since it involves passenger groups, the bus companies and the local authority working together, the Partnership can be changed quickly and effectively as issues arise. Councillor Leigh Bramall, Labour Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development, said:
“The bus partnership is the best deal for Sheffield and it is supported by cross-party MP’s at a national level. Norman Baker has praised Sheffield for its collaborative approach to improving bus services in the city. The Lib Dems are trying to score political points by stalling improvements and are not concerned about the best interests of Sheffield residents.”
The opposition of Sheffield’s Lib Dems to the city’s successful Bus Partnership is yet another sign of their increasing disarray. Not only do they oppose the needs of Sheffield’s travelling public, they’re now in conflict with the preferred policy of the senior transport spokesman of their own party! If the Lib Dems’ last administration wasn’t so damaging to Sheffield, we might even be starting to feel sorry for them…