Monday, September 5, 2016

News: First services launched on BRT route

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Late, over budget, and not exactly rapid, but this week the first services begin on the £30m Sheffield to Rotherham Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme.

The Northern route of the scheme aims to improve the links between Rotherham and Sheffield passing Meadowhall, the Lower Don Valley and Templeborough. With buses running every ten minutes, it aims help to foster economic growth along the corridor by helping people access jobs and opportunities.

The new high quality X1 Steel Link service, operated by First Bus, replaces the 69 service and will run between Sheffield – Meadowhall – Rotherham – Maltby.

18 high spec vehicles will operate on the route, all fitted with leather seats, USB charging points and dedicated and eye catching bespoke branding. Customers will also shortly benefit from the introduction of free on board wi-fi.

The new vehicles are Department for Transport approved "low carbon certified" and fitted with the latest Euro VI engines, which produce 95% less oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions which will help improve air quality across the route.

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The main feature of the BRT scheme is a £20m, alternative, all transport route which bypasses the congested M1 junction 34 South by providing a new section of highway beneath the Tinsley Viaduct.

In 2014, the scheme was facing the prospect of a 12 month delay and a near £8m cost increase due to "significant ground condition issues" at Tinsley.

Initially programmed to start running in September 2015, the bid included a high quality, limited stop bus service is to provide faster, more frequent connections through the Lower Don Valley, reducing the snarl ups which occur at the busy junction of the M1. It is also expected to help unlock the redevelopment potential of the area, which is being restricted by the traffic problems on the present road system.

Cllr. Denise Lelliott, cabinet member for jobs and the local economy at Rotherham Council (pictured, second right), said: "The X1 Steel Link will give residents of Maltby and Wickersley a direct and frequent service to Rotherham, Meadowhall and Sheffield. Great value fares and high quality buses will offer an alternative to the car for Rotherham residents."

Tom Finnegan-Smith, head of strategic transport and infrastructure at Sheffield City Council (pictured, second left), added: "It has been a real partnership effort to introduce the X1 Steel Link. The service offers a genuine alternative for car users, providing quick, reliable journey times and the latest technology so people can work and be comfortable while they travel. All this will be at a lower cost compared to taking the equivalent journey by car. This forms part of our longer term plans to proactively encourage people to use sustainable forms of transport. This has a number of benefits including reducing congestion, improving air quality and journey times which is good for the local economy."

The BRT scheme was expected to reduce journey times between Rotherham and Sheffield to 20 minutes, utilising the Tinsley Link, limited stops and bus priority measures. However, the X1 will still take around 40 minutes, taking in Meadowhall Interchange that was avoided in the BRT route developed early in the project.

The scheme is being delivered in partnership by SYPTE, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Sheffield City Council.

Funding has come from the Government, councils, the local enterprise partnership's Growing Place Fund and Local Growth Fund, and via the European Union's European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), local developers such as British Land, and the South Yorkshire Local Transport Plan.

When bidding for funding, backers stated that it will help to unlock 4,000 jobs in the Lower Don Valley linked to schemes such as the River Don District, the Outokumpu site and areas of Templeborough in Rotherham. It includes areas benefiting from being in the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone.

The scheme is expected to generate an estimated £200m for the local economy each year, increase public transport patronage by 7,500 passengers per day, and reduce carbon emissions by 6,320 tonnes over 60 years.

A start date has yet to be announced for the delayed £60m pilot project to run tram-train vehicles on both rail and tram networks between Rotherham and Sheffield.

First Group website
SYPTE website

Images: First / SYPTE


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