Today the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority changes its name and takes on new powers which will help it to deliver the best deal for passengers in the county.
Renamed the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (SYITA) the new organisation will have broader responsibilities than the old PTA – it will be able to have influence in areas which were previously beyond its remit, such as the environment and road safety.
And it should make it easier for more agreements to be reached with bus operators for improvements on specific routes in the county.
The changes come about following the passing of the Local Transport Act.
The change of name will make it easier to help bring about new innovations in transport for South Yorkshire – such as the planned extension of concessionary bus fares in Barnsley district. This is being introduced via new powers conferred on the SYITA.
And it should help more voluntary bus agreements to be reached with bus operators, such as the Quality Partnership Scheme on the A638 in Doncaster. The new ITA will for the first time be able to stipulate timings and fares on bus routes.
Later this year it will get additional powers that could pave the way for legally-binding contracts to be reached between the ITA and bus operators over the level and quality of services provided – so-called Quality Contracts.
The Local Transport Act says that any decision on whether Quality Contracts would be introduced would be made by councillors from all four South Yorkshire districts sitting on the SYITA. Previously the decision had to be made by the Department for Transport.
Mick Jameson, Chairman of the SYITA, said: “We are very pleased with the introduction of the SYITA. It will build on the work which the PTA has done over the years and give us more powers to make improvements, which in turn should help to encourage more people to make the switch from cars to public transport.
“Young people living in Barnsley will shortly be among the first to experience the benefits of the new arrangements with the extension of concessionary fares up to the age of 18.”
David Brown, Director General of SYPTE, added: “We look forward to working with the ITA to help raise the quality of service in public transport in South Yorkshire.
“New powers will come on stream as the year progresses and we will be examining how we can best use these to the benefit of all public transport users in South Yorkshire.”
The PTE, along with all South Yorkshire Districts, has already commissioned consultants to review the way transport in South Yorkshire and the wider Sheffield City Region is governed.