‘CUT-OFF’ communities who were left reeling when a daytime bus service was culled are celebrating – after a local MP’s campaign to restore it was successful.
John Healey worked with residents, bus company bosses and the South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard to get plans in place for a new route to link Barnsley with Rotherham, via Hoyland and Wentworth.
It was confirmed last week that the new service – seven – will run from this weekend.
“This shows what can be done when people pull together – we had a strong case to make but I had to open the doors to the people making the decisions, and Mayor Coppard’s backing was vital,” John, who represents the Wentworth and Dearne constituency, said.
“Seven will run every hour in both directions between Monday to Saturday from early morning to early evening.
“This new service also restores a direct link in the village for residents between Barnsley and Rotherham town centres.
“Oliver was great and he could see the villages in between were cut off for those without cars and he pledged to help restore this vital bus link.”
It comes just weeks after ‘significant’ funding cuts to the town’s bus services were announced, resulting in an urgent review being done to prioritise passengers’ needs amid warnings of more routes being axed.
The Department for Transport (DfT) approved a £300m national package last month – but South Yorkshire’s £3.15m for 2023/24 ‘falls way short’ on what is usually given.
Mr Coppard added: “We have lost 15 per cent of our bus services in the last year.
“On a daily basis I hear about the impact those cuts are having on our communities, on people’s ability to get to jobs, medical appointments, college or simply to see friends and family.
“We’re doing what we can but when operators decide to cut a route, all we can do is pay them public money to keep those routes going.
“I’m pleased we have been able to reinstatement some vital routes, but let me be clear, our network is still at risk.
“We urgently need a partner in government who will match our ambition for public transport, not manage its decline.”