BARNSLEY has been included in a ‘ground-breaking’ application which is aiming to secure £227m to improve the town’s transport infrastructure to encourage people to ditch their cars.

The bid, submitted by the Sheffield City Region on Wednesday, has a focus on encouraging active travel, including plans for new cycle routes between Barnsley and the Dearne Valley, other walking and cycling routes, as well as railway station upgrades.

“I want to see a world-class public transport system connecting Barnsley, Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham,” said Dan Jarvis, Mayor of Sheffield City Region and Labour parliamentary candidate for Barnsley Central.

“This will supercharge our economy, clean up our air, mitigate our climate impact and reduce inequality and exclusion.

“Submission of our finalised bid puts us in a very strong position to secure almost a quarter of a billion pounds in funding - an overdue step towards tackling the scandalous under investment which has long held Barnsley and our region back.”

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Improvements under the plan also include a new ‘bus rapid transit’ (BRT) service between Barnsley and Doncaster, connecting the only remaining urban centres in the area without a high quality public transport link.

Dan added: “We have to make it easier for people to get out of their cars and onto their bikes or their feet as the benefits are clear.

“It will help people lead healthier and more empowered lives by freeing them from unnecessary dependence on their cars, reduce the pollution which is especially damaging to kids and the elderly, and help tackle congestion which is costing us dearly in lost growth and wasted productivity.”

Barnsley Council’s strategy is to reduce pollution levels and bosses are aiming to achieve a zero carbon borough by 2040 - ten years sooner than the government is aiming for nationally - as air pollution has been cited as the fourth biggest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity.

A ruling cabinet meeting held earlier this month was told that many commuters’ journeys are less than five miles, so the council believes enticing them to ditch cars in favour of public transport, or active travel, will help towards that.

“Better transport is key to future as it improves our quality of life, the attractiveness of Barnsley and the region for businesses and residents alike.

“This is an important step, but it is only the beginning of what I want to do to transform our transport infrastructure.”