Changes to help reinstate capacity on South Yorkshire’s public transport network will take place next month, so people who have no alternative way to travel can make essential journeys and stay safe.
It comes as demand for public transport is expected to grow next week, as more people start to travel under the UK Government’s restart programme.
Measures are being taken to help accommodate passengers, to maintain social distancing at bus stops and interchanges, including removing some seating, cleaning of contact points and signage reinforcing government guidelines.
SYPTE Executive Director, Stephen Edwards, said: “Public transport will play a crucial role in shaping the Region’s recovery from Covid-19. However, the public transport network as we knew it is going to be different for a while. The implementation of social distancing measures means buses, trams and trains can only carry a fraction of the number of people they would have before the pandemic.
“We are therefore asking people to continue to avoid public transport where possible, consider whether their journey is necessary and consider the time of day they travel. Those who do need to travel are being asked to maintain social distancing, pay by contactless and aim to wear a face covering where possible, wash their hands before and after their journey, and respect fellow passengers and staff. If your bus has a bus full sign, please be prepared to wait for the next bus and let people off the bus before you get on.
“Our priority is the safety of our passengers and staff. We need everyone to play their part, so services can safely continue to connect people to places, as coronavirus restrictions ease.”
The restriction on senior concessionary travel before 9.30am is due to be restored on 8 June to ensure the maximum possible capacity is available for key workers and others who need to travel for work.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “During the early stages of the coronavirus lockdown, I asked SYPTE and operators to ease the restrictions on concessionary passes, so people over 65 could access grace periods in supermarkets and make essential journeys to reach appointments.
“As lockdown restrictions are eased, we must continue to keep both passengers and staff safe, whilst ensuring key workers can get to work. Our public transport system is running at a fraction of its normal capacity due to social distancing measures, yet demand will begin to rise again.
“At peak times services are reaching a limited capacity and to reduce this pressure, it is necessary to reintroduce the concessionary pass time restrictions. This will allow for key workers to travel and keep older and more vulnerable passengers safe.
“With more shops opening, we are focusing on getting workers to where they need to be, whilst maintaining social distancing on busy routes. As part of our recovery plans for South Yorkshire concessions will be reviewed, as we consider plans which benefit those most impacted by the economic downturn, including young people.
“I would like to thank SYPTE, operators and people across South Yorkshire for their hard work to ensure we keep people as safe as possible, and key workers moving, during this challenging time. I would urge people to avoid making unnecessary journeys as much as possible.”
Supertram services will be reviewed once details of the proposed ongoing funding support for light rail, announced by Government on 23 May 2020, are known.
Plans are being introduced to help people to cycle and walk, where possible, instead of using public transport, such as making additional road space available for cyclists and pedestrians in some parts of the Region.
Passengers that do need to travel are urged to plan ahead and check before they travel. Information about service changes and new timetables will be made available online or by calling Traveline.