A PANEL tasked with reviewing the state of bus services in South Yorkshire have undergone visits to four English cities to see how public transport operates.

Chaired by Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, the independent panel when on fact finding mission to Manchester, Reading, Bristol and Brighton.

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis announced a review into the bus network across South Yorkshire to see what improvements could be made and appointed Mr Betts to appoint a panel of commissioners.

The panel have been asking residents, community groups and business their views about how the bus service could be improved.

Mayor Jarvis has said that if bus patronage continues to fall, the model passengers use today will become ‘unsustainable’ in future.

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The panel visited Manchester where city region mayor Andy Burham has begun a consultation looking to bring buses under public control.

Greater Manchester combined authority (GMCA) has given the go-ahead for a three-month public consultation that could result in the city region implementing a London-style franchising system for buses.

Setting up a South Yorkshire style bus franchising model is something metro mayor Dan Jarvis can do and the review is set to look at ‘all options’ before presenting their recommendations to him.

A city region franchise has the support of a number councillors in Sheffield who have previously called for Mayor Jarvis to implement such a system.

But any move would be heavily resisted by operators, including Stagecoach who publicly said it would oppose attempts to regulate bus services in South Yorkshire.

The panel also visited Reading, Brighton and Bristol where services run well past midnight and some operate 24/7.

Jenny Holmes, assistant director of strategic transport, said: “The mayor recognises that the decline in bus patronage has a number of causes, including wider societal changes over which the SCR has little influence, but that if this trend continues there is a real risk that the service as we know it today will be simply unsustainable.

“The independent commission panel is examining if and how regulatory powers would improve bus services. In setting aspirations and expectations for a future SCR bus service additional capital and revenue investment will be required.

* Provided by the Local Democracy Reporting Service