Wednesday, January 3, 2024

News: All South Yorkshire councils to cover Supertram losses


A transport levy paid by the four local authorities in South Yorkshire is set to be used to cover the £6.3m losses of Supertram after Stagecoach’s current contract for operation of the network ends in March.

Opened in 1994, Sheffield's Supertram system cost £240m and now serves major residential and employment sites in Sheffield. A tram-train pilot project brought new vehicles to Rotherham in 2018. The running of Supertram services, infrastructure and finances will be controlled by South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) through an arms-length company from March 22.

Rothbiz revealed in November that the cost to keep the Supertram network going for another 30 years is now nearly £600m, with only the first £105.95m secured, and that £7m is being set aside from the MCA budgets to support any operating losses. This is £7m each year, reducing over time.

The Mayoral Combined Authority Board is set to receive an update on the proposals, and budgets, when it meets next week with a business plan for Supertram on the agenda.

A 2024/25 operating budget for SYFTL (the arms-length company operating the tram) shows that operating costs are £23.6m per year for the 29km long network of four overlapping routes, served by 25 trams and seven tram-trains. Nearly 60% of costs go towards the wages and salaries of the workforce with almost 20% of the budget paying for the cost of electricity which powers the trams.

Annual income is £17.5m, which mostly comes from ticket revenues and around £1.8m from concessionary subsidies via SYMCA for elderly and disabled passengers and children.

Around 9.5 million people travel on Supertram every year. A long period of track renewal and the COVID pandemic has seen patronage fall from its peak of 15 million passengers per annum in 2010/11. There were 11.5 million passengers in 2019 prior COVID.

A report to the SYMCA board said: "All these income streams are not enough to cover the tram system’s day-to-day running costs. In 2024/25, the operating deficit is forecast to be around £6.3m. SYMCA will pay an operating subsidy to SYFTL which will allow the company to meet all its financial obligations. SYMCA will also meet any costs necessarily incurred by SYFTL to deliver the asset renewal programme. In its own medium term financial plan, SYMCA has set aside sufficient resources (£5-7m per annum) from the South Yorkshire Transport Levy (paid by each of the four local authorities in proportion to their population) to cover the cost of the operating subsidy."

This year's transport levy is to be discussed at the same meeting. For 2024/25 it is set at £56.65m, raising an additional £1.1m of funding. The 2% increase would mean that Sheffield Council would pay in £23.6m, Doncaster £12.5m, Rotherham £10.6m and Barnsley £9.9m.

The new company's five year strategy sees Supertram go through a recovery phase before an improvement phase and then a growth phase. The plan forecasts that the operating deficit will decline as energy prices begin to stabilise.

The report adds: "One of SYFTL’s primary goals is to decrease its dependence on the public purse. To achieve this, the delivery plan includes several measures that aim to boost ticket sales and other forms of revenue, as well as identifying more cost effective ways of working. This includes new ticket collection machines which will speed up payments for customers. Efficiency in the business will be targeted with a major Timetable Optimisation Study the results of which will determine future service levels and support efficient running and manning of services."

SYMCA has put in place a two-year emergency support package for local transport in the face of a lack of resources and "stop-start" government funding for buses. The authority states that "without sustained Government funding this level of support cannot be maintained beyond financial year 2024/25."

SYMCA website

Images: Supertram / SYMCA


Anonymous,  January 4, 2024 at 3:02 PM  

It doesn't strike me as a particularly fair way of dealing with this, especially given that 95% of the routes are in Sheffield, and neither Barnsley or Doncaster are serviced by Supertram.

Another example of the public purse being used to prop up a vanity project?

Anonymous,  January 4, 2024 at 7:30 PM  

That maybe true about nearly all routes being in Sheffield, but many people from Barnsley & Donny will use them to commute regularly

Anonymous,  January 5, 2024 at 5:19 PM  

And your evidence for this is what?

Anonymous,  January 6, 2024 at 5:14 PM  

I’m one Jez

Jez January 7, 2024 at 8:52 AM  
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Jez,  January 7, 2024 at 1:28 PM  

Eyes and ears are good evidence

Jez January 7, 2024 at 10:00 PM  
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Return of the Jezi,  January 8, 2024 at 2:55 PM  

Sorry Jez2 but Anonymous 1,2 and 3 is perfectly right when he says that folk from Barnsley and Doncaster commute using super tram. My brother in law lives in Doncaster but supports Sheffield United. When they are at home midweek he parks his car at Meadowhall and then gets on the tram to Cathedral. As this happens 5 or 6 times every season it is only right that Barnsley and Doncaster rate payers fork out for the tram. What more evidence do you want for goodness sake?

Anonymous,  January 8, 2024 at 3:18 PM  

No matter what evidence you present to Jez, he her them they will try and poke a hole in it because it wasn't his hers thems theys idea.

Jez January 9, 2024 at 4:13 PM  

Evidence either exists or doesn't. It is not an idea. And in the case of statements put forward by you it usually doesn't.

Anonymous,  January 11, 2024 at 4:13 PM  

Commuter data across the region is on page 22 of this report;

Anonymous,  January 12, 2024 at 12:38 PM  

Sorry, but I am unable to open this document. What does it say about tram commuters from outside Sheffield?

Jez January 14, 2024 at 1:20 PM  

"Nothing at all", would be my guess.

Anonymous,  January 15, 2024 at 9:54 PM  

So someone posts actual data and Jez can't be bothered to read it. Laziness would be my guess.

Jez January 16, 2024 at 10:55 AM  
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Jez January 16, 2024 at 5:34 PM  
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Anonymous,  January 16, 2024 at 6:32 PM  

Then your guess would be wrong, but funny how I downloaded the report in a matter of seconds, it wasn't rocket science. Not so clever after all are you......

Anonymous,  January 17, 2024 at 10:17 AM  

Copy and paste the link into your browser and it does work, or is that too much effort for you?

Anonymous,  January 17, 2024 at 12:07 PM  

Well I must be dim like Jez, because even when I copy and paste the link it just says pdf cannot be displayed. Why not be a sport and tell us what it says on p22 of the report? Or is that too much effort?

Jez January 17, 2024 at 12:34 PM  
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Anonymous,  January 17, 2024 at 1:22 PM  

You’re correct on both counts, you are dim and yes, it would be too much effort to tell you what it says.

Jez January 17, 2024 at 1:50 PM  
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Anonymous,  January 17, 2024 at 4:15 PM  

You are a very rude and partially educated person.

Anonymous,  January 17, 2024 at 4:26 PM  

Apparently he was born in Blisterdale Maternity Hospital

Anonymous,  January 17, 2024 at 5:37 PM  

Sorry. A very rude and partially educated child.

Anonymous,  January 17, 2024 at 10:41 PM  

I haven’t claimed anything is in that article, I didn’t post the link. I’ve merely claimed that it’s easy to be able to read it.

Jez January 18, 2024 at 8:07 AM  
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Anonymous,  January 18, 2024 at 8:49 AM  

You might think it is pertinent to the debate if you read it. If you ask people for evidence and then can't be bothered to actually read what they provide, why should they bother entering any sort of debate with you?

Jez January 18, 2024 at 1:22 PM  
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Anonymous,  January 18, 2024 at 3:08 PM  

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Anonymous,  January 18, 2024 at 3:25 PM  

I have little time for much of the stuff posted by Jez (or by your responses I have to say). However on this occasion, I am obliged to support him on this topic. Jez asked for evidence to support someone's claim that many people from Barnsley and Doncaster used Supertram to commute to and from Sheffield. Having read the relevant section in the quoted article, there is nothing at all related to cross boundary commutes via Supertram.
So if any evidence actually does exist then can someone please provide it so that these two pains in the backside can give it a rest.

Anonymous,  January 19, 2024 at 12:34 PM  

There are more than 2 people at play here, don't be fooled by Jez that there isn't. But yeah this is getting boring now.

Jez January 19, 2024 at 5:32 PM  

As I have said before, if no one was allowed to post as "Anonymous" and only one poster per email address was allowed, we would be able to see exactly how many people were "at play".

Anonymous,  January 20, 2024 at 6:34 AM  

Bore off Jez, we all know full well you don't like anonymous posts even if what is posted makes sense. You really are getting boring now.

Anonymous,  January 21, 2024 at 2:01 PM  


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