RISING costs and reduced public sector investment have forced up Stagecoach fares for its passengers.

The operator's confirmed that fares in Barnsley and the Dearne Valley will rise by an average of 3% from 1 April.

An independent survey last year found that Stagecoach offered the best value bus fares of any major bus operator in the UK - with prices up to 20% lower than other companies - but this news is bound to cause some controversy.

Paul Lynch, Stagecoach Yorkshire's managing director, said: "We understand that this will be frustrating for our passengers. Unfortunately we have had to take some difficult decisions but we have done our best to keep fare changes to a minimum.“