Stagecoach and First working together in Sheffield

Ever wondered what could happen when bus operators put aside their competitive streak and decide to work together for passengers' benefit?

A few months ago, the mhd partnership was approached by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) to write communication material for the new Optio scheme, being run by First and Stagecoach in Sheffield, ensuring that the simplicity of the project was reflected in words as well as actions.

The result?

Bus passenger levels have grown strongly on routes in the city with shared ticketing and service arrangements between operators – against an overall decline across South Yorkshire.

Figures released by SYPTE show the total journeys made in the 12 months to March 2011 was 109 million, down 0.75 per cent from 110 million in 2009/10.

SYPTE said that during the last three months to January 2012, there has been ‘significant’ passenger growth on Sheffield’s two routes covered by the Optio scheme, on which First and Stagecoach share operations and accept each other’s tickets.

On the ‘red’ corridor – the 52 route between Woodhouse, Darnall, the city centre, Crookes and Hillsborough – there were 5.16 per cent more journeys made than in the same period a year ago. The ‘orange’ routes, between Halfway and Fulwood, saw a 1.9 per cent growth.

Shared ticketing arrangements were backed by people living along the routes.

One person commented “It certainly makes life easier, especially when coming back from town in a hurry – you don’t have to wait for a particular company’s bus.”

With quality contracts being touted as the way forward in many parts of the country, this approach of operators working together for the benefit of passengers may be a way they can stay in control of their own financial destiny.

I guess only time will tell.