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Already there have been indepth reviews about the Sheffield Supertram so I'm just going to give you my opinions on it rather than the historical and factual stuff that is already available.
As a student in Sheffield, I have had the pleasure of using the tram to attend exams at Don Valley Stadium and have found the trams cramped, but with so many students attending the exams this is to be expected.
Sheffield City Centre is relatively close to the train station and is a short walk downhill to it, so for people that want to use the tram to visit Meadowhall and are getting on in the city centre, it may be worth walking down to the train station, as there are many regular trains which stop at Meadowhall, in the same place that the tram stops and the ticket on a train is cheaper, and those with a railcard can use this for an even cheaper fare.
The train to Meadowhall is a lot quicker (approx 5mins) as it is one stop away from the city centre, whereas with all the stops for the tram, it can take approx 20 minutes from the city centre to the Meadowhall stop.
Personally I think the trams in France look better and are easier to use as you can buy a ticket before boarding, the last thing you want to do when standing on a cramped tram is to try and find your change for the fare, but the Supertram is a great asset for Sheffield and I should use it more, although it is quite costly in my opinion.
Overall, The trams are useful, but for people just jumping on the tram to go to Meadowhall, I personally would advise taking the train, as it is quicker and cheaper.
The Sheffield Tram is called Supertram and is ran by Stagecoach Group PLC, who are a major public transport company operating light rail, train, bus & coach services in the UK, Europe & North America. It's ran in co-operation with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE).
Supertram is a tram network in Sheffield which first came to light in 1985 when SYPTE started to build the system at a cost of £240m but it wasn't until 1994 when it started opening up in stages right through to 1995. It was originally ran by SYPTE subsidiary South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd and changed over to Stagecoach's hands in 1997.
The train livery was originally rather dull and un-inviting, with a light grey & white colour, then got the 3 Stagecoach colours in lines at the bottom but in 2006 trains received a new, sexier design as part of a multi-million pound investment into the network. The new sexier design is very eye catching with the blue, red & orange Stagecoach colours covering the trains. The trains are brand new, spacious & comfortable, they have great lowfloor easy access for wheelchairs & pushchairs with dedicated areas for these passengers.
The network runs on 3 lines, the Yellow, Blue & Purple. The Yellow line runs from Middlewood to Meadow Hall, the blue runs from Malin Bridge to Halfway and the Purple runs from Herdings Park to Cathedral (continues to Meadow Hall in off-peak hours).
Theres a range of tickets available including single, day & weekly tickets which can be purchased onboard the tram by the conductor, you can also use Explorers, Megariders & Uniriders which are used on Stagecoach buses too. Holders of a South Yorkshire or English National Senior Citizen concessionary pass are entitled to free travel after 09:00AM Monday to Friday and all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays. Under 5's always travel free. Single tickets are valid for 1 hour from time of purchase for travelling away from the boarding location.
Overall I like the Supertram, it's stunning eye catching colours & livery make it easy to spot & add a great addition to Sheffield, the front dispays it's destination and line colour using bright LED lights which are very clear to see, just like those used on brand new buses. Insides are clean, tidy and brand new with fresh modern decor and bright, airy atmopshere with a great timetable and destinations across the Sheffield area its a great way to get around the area.
Historically the city of Sheffield had an extensive tram system that served the city from the late 1880's until 1960 when it was abolished. It had been perceived by the late 1950's that the future of travel in the city would be with cars.
Twenty five years later and there were so many cars on the roads that the city's transport infrastructure was on the verge of complete collapse. Clearly something radical had to be done and a Government funded study concluded that the future of travel in Sheffield would once again lie in the hands of the trams.
These new trams would however be a far cry from the old Victorian trams that had once graced our streets, they would be fast, clean and environmentally friendly. Lessons would be learned from similar schemes in other UK cities like Manchester and the latest technology available would make these modern trams cutting edge. And so the Supertrams as they were to be called were born ..
The early days of the Supertram were not however without controversy. The major construction work on the city's streets between 1991 and 1995 that was required to create the city's new state of the art transport system created chaos on the already congested roads and by the time this work was completed hundreds of small businesses had been forced to close as the blocked off roads had made their premises virtually inaccessible to the public. On top of this the cost of Supertram soared way beyond its original budget and scaremongering within the local press warned us that it would be the residents of the city that would be picking up the bill.
On the 21st March 1994 the first Supertrams began to run in the city, initially on a route between the city centre and Meadowhall Interchange. By the 23rd October 1995 all work had been completed and the Supertrams began to run on three different routes consisting of 29 kilometres of rail track. These routes ran from Malin Bridge near Hillsborough to Halfway via the city centre and the Crystal Peaks Shopping Complex, from Middlewood to the Meadowhall Interchange via the city centre, and from Herdings Park to the Meadowhall Interchange.
Approximately 50% of the electric driven light railway track system is at the side or in the middle of public roads but Supertram always has priority over the other traffic.
The Supertram network links five different park and ride sites with the city centre and gives easy access to the railway station, shopping areas, both of Sheffield's prestigious universities, the Cathedral, sports arenas and many other popular entertainment venues.
Each Supertram vehicle looks like a modern aerodynamic train and is capable of carrying over 250 Passengers. They are quiet, comfortable and very clean with every vehicle being washed at the end of each days service and fully valeted every month.
In the early days of the Supertram tickets were purchased from machines at the tram stops prior to boarding and shown to the driver for verification but this system did not really work. Many people found the fare structure confusing and bought incorrect tickets whilst others used this flaw to deliberately abuse the system. Within a few months these automatic ticket machines were abandoned and all Supertrams now have conductors on board from whom the tickets are bought from.
All of Sheffield's Supertrams are operated by Stagecoach who also operate local buses in the city alongside First Mainline and other smaller local bus companies. All of the Stagecoach staff are fully trained in customer care, conflict avoidance and disability awareness.
I travel on the Sheffield Supertram quite regularly since I own a shop at Hillsborough and there is a tram stop directly outside it. From the city centre to Hillsborough the journey by tram is far quicker than by bus or car and also a lot cheaper than by the bus.
The prices are quite simple and there is a maximum one way fare of just £1.80 or you can buy a daysaver ticket for £2.70 which you can use as many times as you want during a day.
My fare to Hillsborough costs £1.80 each way so I always buy a daysaver ticket for £2.70. This compares with a comparative bus fare on First Mainline of £2.10 for a single journey or £3.50 for a day ticket. There are also concessionary rates available on the tram for children, OAP's and students. For regular travellers there are weekly and monthly tickets available. Weekly tickets currently cost £9.50 and Monthly ones £35.
Hillsborough is an area of the city that is notoriously bad for traffic congestion. It is also the location of Sheffield Wednesday's football ground and when they are playing at home the traffic is horrendous. The beauty of Supertram is that it has priority over all other traffic and therefore does not have to wait in any traffic queues.
All of the trams that I have been on have been very clean and the staff have always been polite. The main problem that I find is that they get very crowded at busy times and sometimes I have to stand for my full journey.
The other criticism would have to be that the Supertram does not serve a lot of the city so it is only any good if you live on the route. Since I don't live on the route when I visit my shop (only usually a couple of times a week) I have to catch a bus from my house to the city centre before I can jump on a tram.
A journey on the Sheffield Supertram bears very little resemblance to a journey by bus. Back in the days when this transport system was still a dream I always imagined that it would have been more akin to a journey by train but the reality is that there are not even too many similarities there either.
A Supertram ride is a much more comfortable, relaxed affair. Since even the oldest vehicles are still only a few years old the upholstery on the seats is very clean, almost as new on most of the vehicles and I have never seen any graffiti. I understand that all of the original vehicles are now also in a refurbishment programme and will be completely updated within the next couple of years and on top of this there are brand new vehicles on order. It would seem that Stagecoach have no intentions of running this flagship system into the ground as they have done with the buses that they operate in the city. Many of their buses are now well over ten years old with torn upholstery and are quite literally falling to bits.
The Supertrams are very quiet. In the early days this caused a few problems as they knocked several people down because unlike the other traffic you cannot hear them coming until they are very close to you. When a tram pulls up at one of its designated stops the doors slide open automatically. They usually have three or four carriages on them although there are currently plans to add a fifth carriage onto vehicles at peak times to try and reduce congestion. This would seem to be the logical thing to do since increasing the frequency of the trams would be difficult because there are a limited number of vehicles and during the rush hour they already run every 8 minutes. Adding another carriage however will not be quite as simple as it sounds as many of the stations are not long enough to cope with a vehicle of this length. One such compromise that is currently being discussed is to have people get off the trams only from the middle three carriages at shorter stations, something that currently happens on some of the London Underground tube stations.
Inside the trams each vehicle is equipped with rows of seats set out in pairs with an aisle in between. Although it has be said that the space between each row of seats and the width of the aisle is a lot wider than those found on our local buses and many of the trains that I have travelled on. The seats that are closest to each set of doors have a lot more space in front of them are these are reserved especially for the disabled, elderly and people with pushchairs.
The rows of seats face different directions so you have a choice whether you wish to face forwards or backwards on your journey. In each carriage there is a LCD display advising you of the next stop that are approaching. Trams do not automatically stop at every stop so you do have to press the bell when you reach your destination, although once this has been pressed a message above the station name on the LCD display will say "Stopping at ."
Getting on and off the trams for people in wheelchairs or with pushchairs is also a lot less hassle than getting onto a bus, or so I am told. Although to be fair many of the newer buses do now have low floors and can tilt downwards to almost ground level. The Supertram however does not have this problem since the station platforms are completely level with the doors and there is virtually no gap between the platform and the door, a problem that still occurs with many trains.
Overall I think that the Sheffield Supertram is excellent but there are still many people in the city who have not forgotten the chaos and the misery that its construction caused. So opinion is still very much divided between those that were largely unaffected by its creation and love it and those that will never forgive it and loathe it.
I feel that South Yorkshire's Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) got a bit carried away when they named their tram system Stagecoach Supertram. There seems to be very little about it that could be described as 'super' but then again I guess simply Tram would have been a pretty rubbish name. Names aside, let me tell you all about it. My poor Clio isn't very well. From that statement you have probably determined that I don't use public transport, and you would be right. I think it's expensive, inconvenient and on the whole unreliable. Particularly as I need to travel from Sheffield to Rotherham every day for my job, which would mean me catching at least 2 buses. The public transport route takes around an hour, my car takes 15 minutes and goes from my door to the car park outside my office, plus myself and two colleagues operate a nice turn-taking drive scheme most days. Ok, rant over, I feel I have justified the use of my car now! Anyway, if you've read my opinion on my Clio (hint, hint) you'll know she's an old lady now. She's getting on a bit and at that time in her life when things begin to go wrong. Big things like engines, head gaskets, motors and other such parts that I have no comprehension of. Being in the luck position of knowing a lovely car doctor who is honest and reasonable, I booked her a check-up. Then I realised my problem. DrCarMender runs his automobile surgery from Hillsborough so I needed means of getting to work from there. Hmmm. After some unsuccessful attempts at convincing my workmates to drive there and pick me up, it was suggested that I could catch the renowned Supertram. I considered the fact that during the 18 month I had lived in Sheffield, and the previous 3 years of visiting that I had never caught a tram, and realised that it just had to be done. If only to write the review! The Supertram was opened in October 1995 based around the 1960s Sheffield
tram system. It covers 29km via three colour-coded routes around the centre of Sheffield and to Meadowhall (yellow and purple), Halfway (blue), Herdings Park (purple), Malin Bridge (blue) and Middlewood (yellow) at the ends of the routes. The trams are rather like a train with three carriages, which run on rails with overhead cables. Watch them in the rain because sometimes the cable make spectacular sparks as the tram goes over a join. The tram has dedicated tracks and in some areas they run on the main roads. It's quite an odd feeling to drive along behind one in a queue of traffic, as they look so much like trains! Also the tram lines are slippery when wet so watch out if you are driving your car on them. You'll notice most motorists drive to the left of the lines. Each tram has three carriages and hold up to 250 people. In general they are clean and seating is comfortable with good facilities for disabled access and standing passengers. You can buy single, day return, day rider and weekly tickets from the conductor and Travel Information Centres at Meadowhall and Sheffield or Monthly tickets from Travel Information Centres and Park & Ride sites. So, back to the story, I consulted my A-Z and noticed that the tram ran right past the bottom of Mick's street. Wonderful, or so I thought. The very next day I posted my car key through DrCarMender's door (it was too early for him to be open) and set off down the road. I was fully prepared - rucksack with phone pouch, Walkman with Chemical Brothers, purse with change - what could possibly go wrong? At the end of the road, I could clearly see the tramlines on the road but there was no sign of a tram stop. Having a fairly good sense of direction (surprising for a female, I know) I headed in the direction of the town centre, which is where I would be going on the tram. I soon came across a bus stop and a lady waiting (maybe even a lady in waiting, who knows?). Missbrowneyedgirl: 'Does the bus from here go into town?' Lady-in-waiting: 'Not this one love but some of them do', as she indicated towards the approaching bus. Missbrowneyedgirl: 'Can I catch the tram from here' Lady-in-waiting: looks at melike I'm crazy then says 'No, you need to go to the TRAM STOP around the corner', indicating the aforementioned corner with her extended arm, and adding a patronising emphasis to the word 'tram stop' Missbrowneyedgirl: in a sheepish voice 'Thankyou' Feeling like a bit of a buffoon, I continued around the corner and felt even worse when I spotted what was clearly the tram stop. It had two large shelters and the pavement was raised in order to let you get on and off the trams at an appropriate level. I only had to wait about 5 minutes before I saw a tram approaching. Apparently the run every 10 minutes during the day time and every 20 minutes after 6pm. The central carriage has no entrance / exit hence there being two shelters positioned alongside where the first and last carriage stop. I believe there is a button on the outside to open the doors, but it was quite busy and I might have imagined this! Inside the tram is arranged rather like a train, with pairs of facing seats, but no tables in between. You simply find yourself a seat then wait for the conductor to come along and you pay your fare. The tram I caught wasn't particularly busy although there was room for standing. One thing I did notice was that all the forward facing seats filled up before anyone would sit on a backwards one! The conductor was very helpful as I didn't really know where I was going and I'm appalling at remembering the street names in Sheffield. I told him I needed to be at The Wicker and he informed me that I needed to go to Castle Square tram stop. Not really knowing where this was, I heartily agreed and paid the £1.10 single fare in ex
change for my ticket. Since I have caught a few trams on various journeys I have noticed that there seem to be two tram fares: £1.10 or £1.40. I'm not sure how they calculate this, but £1.40 allows you to go from one terminus to the other (the farthest tram journey possible). This is only on the yellow route though - I'm not sure about the others. Now bearing in mind that I didn't know A) where I was B) where I wanted to be C) the tram route I began to panic shortly after the tram set off. How would I know where to get off? All of the tram stops have signs showing their names, but as it was a rainy day and the windows were steamed up that wasn't really a reliable method of me getting off in time! Suddenly I noticed and LED display hanging from the ceiling of the carriage. Clearly invented for people like me, this shows the name of the next tram stop as soon as you leave the one you are at. Brilliant! To stop the tram you press one of the buttons located on every other bar and the display shows 'tram stopping' after the stop name. When the tram stops you simply press a similar button on the door to open it and get off. There are also bins at every exit to dispose of your tickets. I would recommend keeping your ticket until you get off as a ticket inspector got on a tram the other day and I had to produce a scraggy looking half torn, half chewed ticket from my mouth to show him. Time wise the tram seems fairly quick. It does run on some roads so it encounters traffic jams and traffic lights as you would if you were driving these routes. From my experiences the tram seems to take about 20 minutes to do each half of the yellow route but on top of that I needed to add my travelling time to get to and from the stops - either by walking, buses or arranging lifts. This to me seems to be one of the main problems of Supertram, in so far as, it doesn't actually go anywhere near wh
ere I live or where I work. In conclusion, I think the tram is an inconvenient and expensive way of travelling around, particularly in comparison to my car! the frequency of the trams is very good but they don't really seem to go anywhere near where I want to be! However, compared with the nightmare I had trying to get the bus to my house (Would you believe the bus doesn't stop at the bus station? It's true!), this is a doddle! In the light of the problems and the costs involved, I wouldn't recommend Supertram, but I'd be very interested to hear of anyone else's experiences, particularly positive ones! For more information on Supertram, including maps and timetables, have a look at SYPTE's website: http://www.sypte.co.uk or Stagecoach Supertram's site: http://www.supertram.com. I'd also recommend that you also read daseaford's opinion for an experience of Supertram for non-Sheffield residents. He's put a lot of information in there about the M1 Park and Ride scheme at Nunnery Square.
In 1994 a new method of transport was opened in Sheffield. This was the Supertram system. Costing over £200 million of government money this system was to revolutionise the public transport system in Sheffield. For the people of Sheffield I am sure the system has provided a fast and reliable service in and out of the City centre. On our many visits to Sheffield we have always been dismayed at the expensive cost of the car parks in the City so on our latest visit we decided to use the Park and Ride system using the trams. After leaving the M1 motorway we followed the signs for the Park and Ride site and were surprised to be within sight of the City centre before following the signs back away from the City to the car park. As we entered the car park we saw that the cost of the Park and Ride was £3. However, when we went to pay we found that this only meant tram travel for the car driver and the other members of the family would have to pay the tram fare, or we could buy a family ticket (which included the car park fee) for £4. The only other Park and Ride we have used is the system in Nottingham (which we use regularly) where parking and travel for ALL the car’s occupants is £1.50 in total. We were beginning to understand why the car park was nearly empty. After waiting over ten minutes at a freezing tram stop, we boarded a tram for the short journey of four stops to the City shops. The conductor on the tram checked our ticket and asked, in a very loud voice “What ticket is this, I have never seen one like this before?” I explained that this was the first time we had ever used the trams and this was the ticket we had been sold. After a lot of muttering and making us feel very guilty, he eventually gave us the ticket back. We had assumed that the tram network would cover different parts of the City centre, but after shopping for a few hours and a long way from where we got off the tram we enquired where was the near
est tram stop. It was then that we found out that the trams are only at one end of the City centre and we had a 30 minute walk back to the tram stop carrying all our shopping. There are three different tram routes in the City and we found it very difficult to understand which trams were going where, but eventually, after another freezing wait, about 15 minutes this time, we boarded the right tram back to the car park. I know that this will be the last time we use this Park and Ride service. The £4 will be much better spent on a City Centre car park, where at least we have the choice to take shopping back to the car if we want to. I am sure the Supertram system is a wonderful service for the people of Sheffield, but for shoppers visiting this town, this is not a service I would recommend at all.