WIDESPREAD changes to Barnsley’s bus services have been questioned by the borough’s MPs - but transport bosses have defended the moves, blaming spiralling running costs, reduced funding and dwindling numbers of passengers.

From September 1, a large number of Barnsley’s services will undergo timetable changes - with some, like the 1 from Barnsley to Staincross and 11 to Athersley North, being reduced in frequency, and others being withdrawn completely.

MP for Barnsley East Stephanie Peacock said the changes could leave people isolated and unable to ‘go about their lives’.

“Buses are a lifeline for people in communities like Barnsley,” said Stephanie. “And changes to services can have a profound impact on the lives of residents.

“Reductions and redirections can leave people isolated, unable to attend appointments, get to the shops, or faced with the choice of using expensive alternatives to go about their lives.

In Text Promo Image

“As I’ve stated in Parliament, bus services should be operated with the needs of passengers in mind, not profit, and the impact of these amendments will provide further evidence to the Sheffield City Region review currently underway as to whether private bus companies are best placed to manage services.”

Barnsley Central MP and Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, who earlier this year launched a review of bus services across South Yorkshire, said he was keen to hear people’s opinions on the changes and how services could be improved.

Dan said: “These changes are part of a wider programme of updating bus routes and timetables in South Yorkshire. It is essential that routes and timings are reviewed on a regular basis.

“Although I am not responsible for determining specific routes or timetables, I am concerned about the impact of these proposed changes on communities in Barnsley.

“The initial consultation for my independent bus review runs until September 13.

“I would encourage everyone to contribute their views, which they can do through the Sheffield City Region website.”

John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said: “It’s disappointing to see more cuts to our local buses.

“Thousands of routes have already been cut or withdrawn around the country, because the government has slashed bus funding by £645m a year.

“It’s causing real difficulties for local residents, especially older and disabled people.

“I challenge route changes and cuts with bus operators and the Passenger Transport Executive regularly.

“Recently I managed to get a service reinstated because residents had been cut off from vital services like their post office and GP.

“But we need a Labour government that will reverse the cuts and fund new bus services.”

MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, Angela Smith, said a number of her constituents had expressed their concerns to her about the changes.

“Local bus services are rightly of great interest to many local people,” she said.

“I have written to the SYPTE to ask for a clear explanation of these planned changes and how they will affect local towns and villages and, most importantly, residents.”

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) executive director, Stephen Edwards, said the board had worked to minimise the impact of changes on passengers, but cuts had to be made due to rising costs, falling passenger numbers and reduced funding - with SYPTE’s public funding reduced by more than a third over the last decade.

He added: “We’ve faced difficult decisions about how we spend our budget, to make sure essential economic and social connections across the region are maintained.

“Reducing services isn’t something we want to do, and we have made sure, wherever possible, alternative transport links are available to passengers.

“School buses have been prioritised, to maintain important services that help young people get to education and training.”

For the full list of changes, click here.