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Demonstration against First bus fare rises

alistair tice | 09.11.2005 14:47 | Social Struggles | Sheffield

"We Want Our Buses Back!" is a broad-based campaign against bus fare rises and cuts in services. WWOBB has called a protest demonstration for Saturday 19th November, the day First implement their fourth fare rise this year.The march assembles at 11am at City Hall, Barkers Pool.

“We Want Our Buses Back!” (WWOBB) has called a demonstration against the bus fares hike being introduced by South Yorkshire First on Saturday 19th November.(see box for details)

Pressure is mounting for First to be sacked after they announced a fourth fares rise this year. Lobbied by WWOBB protestors, Sheffield Council leader Jan Wilson retorted “I want our buses back, too!” Three days later, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority (SYPTA) passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in First’s management. Even the Lib-Dems have called for First to have their licence withdrawn – only to be replaced by another private operator (who would also put profit before passengers).

That’s the problem. Despite a lot of huffing and puffing, because of Tory de-regulation and the New Labour government continuing with privatisation for 8 years, the PTA and Council are almost powerless to do anything.

The transport workers’ union is pressing for Quality Bus Contracts to be introduced so the council could set fares, routes and frequencies (a form of regulation, similar to London buses). But Jan Wilson says Quality Contracts are a very difficult thing to achieve and no other council has done it yet.

WWOBB, a broad-based campaign, supports this demand but goes further calling for renationalisation of public transport, a policy supported by 90% of people we talk to.

WWOBB is gaining increasing influence due to our high profile campaigning work, gaining invites to speak at the TGWU branch and Pensioners Action Group, as well as onto the local radio question time programme.

Council cabinet member for transport, Terry Fox, will attend WWOBB’s next campaign meeting, no doubt to tell us he’s on our side, but …. . That’s the point though. Unless these councillors make a stand against privatisation and their own Labour government, their outrage at First’s profiteering is just so much hot air.

WWOBB will ask them to march with us on the 19th, but either way, we will keep putting First, the council and government under pressure until we get our buses back.

We Want Our Buses Back! (WWOBB)

Who we are:
WWOBB is a campaign group set up after the last fare rises and cuts in bus services in July this year.
Thatcher’s deregulation and privatisation in 1987 has led to private operators like ‘First’ gaining a near monopoly and putting profit before passengers. They raise fares and cut services without any regulation.
“We want our buses back” where services have been axed or reduced.
And “We want our buses back” into public control and ownership.

What we’ve done:
· Organised public meetings like in Meersbrook where the No.8 and No.49 buses were cut
· Got 3,000 signatures on our petition
· Petitioned and spoken at Sheffield City Council meeting
· Lobbied the Bus Commission
· Protested to local government minister at Sheffield First City
Strategy launch

alistair tice
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Hide the following 5 comments


10.11.2005 11:39

This is a great campaign.

Many people probably don't remember the bus service in Sheffield in the 80s. It was fantastic. The fare from Hunter's bar into town was 4p!! There was a free bus service that did a circle route of the city centre. A lot more people used the buses which meant there were more of them which meant there was usually one every few minutes so virtually no waiting. This also had the effect of much less traffic on the roads too.

Some years ago I spoke to a Sheffield policeman about the buses. He said at the time didn't agree with the subsidised buses paid for by rate payers. However after seeing the massive increase in traffic since deregulation and privatisation he had changed his mind and thought that cheap fares should be brought back.

Cheap or even free public transport is the way to go for reduced traffic and reduced pollution.


Free is best

10.11.2005 14:23

Free is a lot better than low cost public transport.

It means that you can scrap all the barriers, ticket machines etc etc.

It means that buses don't take ages at stops with people searching for change to pay the driver.

It is a way of encouraging public transport usage that isn't punative against the poor (not something that can be said of road pricing etc).

In many parts of the UK old and very young people (babies and toddlers) travel for free eg on the London underground, and this hasn't resulted in hundreds of old people spending their lives going around the circle line because they can because they don't pay for it -- the argument that paying for public transport is needed to reduce the numbers using it is totally bogus.

Free public transport has been tried in a few places, on a small scale:

What is really needed is for a whole city or country to do it to set an example... And before this will happen the demands of campaigns like WWOBB need to get a load more radical...

Free public transport for all!


Not That Young...

10.11.2005 15:22

In London under 16s can travel on Buses and Trams for Free. Under 14s don't even have to produce ID or the dreaded Oyster (we can track you) card, they can just get on the Bus!

Over 60s get free travel.

Like to see more of that outside the Capital really...



great idea, don't let us down...

18.11.2005 12:20

Like many others, I am looking forward to the protest and applaud the people who have called for it and the hard work they have put into the campaign. It is definitely having some effect as Clive Betts the Sheffield M.P has been asking question about bus regulation in parliament and First Bus are having to go on the defensive. Imo,for too long, the Left and the A/C movement has ignored the issues that affect us in our every-day lives: class issues such as housing, poverty, crime, drugs, etc and instead focused on the (admittedly important) ‘sexy’ issues such as war and the environment, leaving the domestic issue to more unsavoury groups. However, I do hope the WWOBB campaign is/ becomes a genuine broad-based group and not another front for a different left wing group, this is an issue whose time has come and it will probably spread nationwide, such a campaign needs a variety of tactics and an open democratic organisation to facilitate them.


Sheffielders Against Fly Posting Campaign

03.01.2007 15:51

Does anyone want to join in the campaign to stop our city from being disfigured by organisations or individuals who claim to be acting on behalf of 'the people'

Dave Anderson
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