Newest Review: ... but with so many students attending the exams this is to be expected. Sheffield City Centre is relatively close to the train statio... more
What's so Super?
Member Name: missbrowneyedgirl
Date: 14/02/02, updated on 14/02/02 (586 review reads)
Advantages: fairly quick, frequent
Disadvantages: expensive, don't go to convenient places, get stuck in traffic in places
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.
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