TRANSPORT bosses have agreed a seven-step plan in order to sort out Barnsley’s ‘neglected’ bus system - after a review found services to be no longer fit for purpose after long-running complaints.

Council leaders and Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis - who is also the MP for Barnsley Central - will lay out short-term steps by the autumn.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) is set to be mothballed and fall into the governance of the city region body as part of the plan.

The review - published last month - highlighted concerns about SYPTE’s leadership of bus partnerships, as well as their ‘poor approach’ to handling and resolving customer complaints about service changes.

“Our bus system is vitally important for our economy and environment, and for too long it has been neglected,” Dan said.

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“Passengers have suffered - following the findings of the review and its recommendations, we owe it to them to provide a first-class bus service and one they can rely on.

“In difficult circumstances, with yearly cuts to budgets, we have lost sight of what a good bus service looks like and it’s time that we regain this perspective.

“We have a big job to do but if we all play our part, we can have a world class bus service locally - one that properly works for its passengers and that we can be proud of.”

Transport bosses will undertake a full analysis of the local bus network to ensure services run where people want them to go now, and in the future.

This will take a so-called ‘bottom up’ approach, focusing on each area of South Yorkshire and the need for integrated routes across the county, with analysis looking at volume, timings, passenger numbers and speed of journey.

Quality analysis will come next and transport chiefs will look to identify the investment and infrastructure required to improve the quality of service and experience for passengers.

Chloe Shepherd, senior programme manager for transport at the city region, said: “It is recognised that there is a need for real change to happen as soon as possible to meet the expectations of passengers.

“As such it is proposed to adopt an ambitious and accelerated timescale for undertaking this work, with a view to identifying changes which could begin from the 2021/22 financial year.

“The timetable recommends that in August 2020, commissions are put out to market to undertake the analytical workstreams.”

SYPTE bosses welcomed the review’s findings and recognised that ‘fundamental change’ is needed.

Executive director Stephen Edwards added: “The review highlights how vital a strong, reliable, interconnected bus network is for people and the challenges there have been in delivering this in recent years.

“We welcome the report’s recognition that more investment, robust leadership, greater accountability and firm commitment is needed, to secure a sustainable and thriving bus network that is responsive to customer needs.

“Fundamental change is needed to address bus decline and the review recommendations offer an opportunity to shape a better, more integrated bus network for the future.”