Dan Jarvis MP pledged to look at taking them into public ownership when campaigning to be South Yorkshire’s mayor. Since he will not seek re-election, it is notable that his West Yorkshire counterpart, Tracy Brabin, is keeping up that fight in her county.
Ms Brabin said the current model in the region of different operators with different pricing structures and often unreliable services needs to be fixed.
So West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is investigating the potential of bringing bus services back under public control, too, in a franchising model already due to be introduced in Greater Manchester from 2023.
So it is all the more imperative that bus services, despite their more limited reach than high-speed rail, are simplified and affordable. It is a shorter-term and reachable goal, and one that is necessary whatever happens with HS2.
Another issue is the “massive shortage” of bus staff that has become apparent. WYCA members recently heard that the county was short of around 10 per cent of the workforce. Switches to better paid jobs, stagnant conditions and the strains of front line work were given as reasons.
It is clear there are myriad reasons for change. While bettering bus services is about basic quality of life, dealing with the issue can also be seen as a major test of how effective metro mayors can be for Yorkshire.