THE government’s decision to snub transformational public transport plans mooted for Barnsley has been slammed by local leaders.

A multi-million pound bid would have resulted in a fare cap, new high-tech shelters and free travel for under-18s but the plans were dismissed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, who is also Mayor of South Yorkshire, said the area’s been ‘shafted’ by the government’s decision.

“The government’s so-called commitment to levelling up - which supposedly has buses at its heart - is nothing more than an empty promise,” he added.

“This was the blueprint for the transformation of our bus services I’ve been working towards since I took office.

“We’ve been shafted - we submitted a visionary and detailed bid to transform our bus services.

“We needed central government to put its money where its mouth is and back our ambition, but they have once again failed the travelling public.”

Passengers will grill candidates in the running to become the next Mayor of South Yorkshire at a public event on Thursday, which has the long-running issue of bus services at the top of the agenda.

Passengers, business owners and bus drivers from across the region will share their experiences of how the bus network is ‘failing local communities’.

Members from the Better Buses for South Yorkshire campaign group - who will be in attendance - have been supporting a franchising model and believe there is ‘no alternative’ in order to reverse the decline.

Under a franchising scheme, the overall accountability and balance of financial risk for bus service delivery will transfer from private sector bus operators to South Yorkshire’s four councils.

Fran Postlethwaite, a bus passenger and campaigner from Jump, said: “Our bills and sea levels are rising - an affordable, convenient bus network would be a big step to tackle both these issues.

“The next mayor must use their powers to franchise our buses so they are integrated, reliable and affordable, but warm words aren’t enough.

“The last mayor promised public control but will leave office with the plans 21 months behind schedule.

“As next week’s event will show, our communities cannot afford more delays.”