City of Sheffield (England)
The City of Sheffield is situated fairly centrally in England, approximately 230 km north of London. It covers an area of 368 km² and is geographically very diverse. Much of the city is built on hillsides. The city’s lowest point is just 10 metres above sea level, whilst some parts of the city are at over 500 metres above sea level.
The population is 526,000 and has a population density of about 1,400 people per square kilometre. There is a bulge in the population in the 20-24 age group caused by Sheffield’s significant student population. The population has increased in recent years because firstly, there are now more births than deaths in Sheffield, and secondly, there has been an increase in the level of international migration to Sheffield.
Sheffield has a long history of and an international reputation for metallurgy and steel making. The Advanced Manufacturing Park has research units of companies such as Boeing and Rolls Royce. However, overall Sheffield’s economy has restructured and 84% of employment is now service based.
Public transport is generally good. Sheffield has a major railway station, a good bus network and a tram system – the Sheffield Supertram.
Actual state of accessibility-work
Most of the roads, the responsibility for maintaining publically owned open spaces, and the overall responsibility for local planning lie with the City Council. The City Council is also responsible for pedestrian and cycling facilities (on publically controlled land).
The Integrated Transport Authority for South Yorkshire is responsible for producing the Local Transport Plan across the Sheffield City Region in collaboration with Sheffield City Council and the other metropolitan areas. One of the main four goals of the 2011 – 2026 transport strategy is to enhance social inclusion and health. Policy ‘O’ is ‘To ensure public transport is accessible to all’ and policy ‘S’ is ‘To encourage active travel and develop high-quality cycling and walking networks’
Major roads such as the M1 (E13) are the responsibility of the Highways Agency, a central government agency.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) is responsible for aspects of passenger transport throughout the Sheffield city-region. Examples of SYPTE’s responsibilities include the bus stops, shelters and bus interchanges.
Bus services are primarily provided by private companies who decide, on the basis of profitability, which services they operate. Bus companies can change (including completely withdrawing) services as they wish providing they give 56 days’ notice. Rail services are provided by four Train Operating Companies. These are government franchises, and include minimum standards. However, poor co-ordination / co-operation between the companies can cause problems.
There are active organisations of PRMs including Sheffield Centre for Independent Living and Sheffield Transport 4 All. In addition there is a large community transport organisation providing many relevant services including dial-a-ride.
Sheffield Community Transport agreed to lead the work in Sheffield. Finding one organisation responsible for all matters relevant to PRM, or finding a government body willing to lead was not possible.
With Sheffield CT’s local knowledge and contacts, it was possible to put together an ISEMOA team involving the most important public sector organisations (Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive), representatives from PRM organisations and Sheffield CT an important third-sector organisation providing transport services for some PRM groups.
There is significant evidence of policy development by a variety of organisations, but this is not all joined-up into one coherent delivery plan. In addition, the delivery of public transport is undertaken by many private sector companies who have varying degrees of autonomy themselves.
However, there is evidence of good progress being made and while there are issues with legacy design on infrastructure with a long-life e.g. railway carriages where new infrastructure has been introduced is highly accessible as on the Sheffield Supertram.
Work by groups such as Transport 4 All has informed the work of the City Council, giving direct user input in order to ensure that measures are implemented which improve accessibility.
Quotes of local stakeholders
“We were pleased to be asked to be involved with ISEMOA. It has been useful to be able to discuss accessibility issues with the other members of the ISEMOA team in Sheffield and to explore our different perspectives on accessibility issues” (City Council Officer)
“As a transport operator providing services for PRM, I was particularly interested to hear the views of transport users. We provide a door-to-door transport services funded by South Yorkshire PTE and participating in ISEMOA has allowed me to take some time out of the office to reflect on the overall accessibility situation in Sheffield” (Community Transport Provider)