PENSIONERS claim their independence has been ‘shut off’ - after recent alterations to bus services wreaked havoc on their ability to make essential trips.
Changes were implemented across Barnsley at the end of October, with routes and times being altered and a reduction in many services, which has been detrimental to many.
Shirley Poynter, a regular attendee of a social group for the elderly in Kingstone, is one of those effected, as she has been forced to limit her travel thank to these latest changes.
She told the Chronicle: “I can’t even get to Morrisons anymore, they’ve not thought about their customers.
“I’ve honestly been quite depressed over the last fortnight - it feels like my life’s shut off.”
Shirley is a member of the weekly coffee morning at St Edward’s Church, where multiple attendees have felt the stress of the changes.
Organiser of the group, Margaret Gostelow, told the Chronicle: “These new changes mean that we’ve got no buses that go up Broadway.
“It’s a concern for people who can’t walk so well or struggle getting out
“A lot of the people who come want to remain independent, they don’t want to have to rely on their family to get out.
“I’ve had one woman at home call me in tears because she’s so lonely - they shouldn’t be in this situation, why shouldn’t they have the chance to get out like everyone else?”
While the church was previously accessible via route 43 and 44, the latest changes replaced most of those services with the new number 22a and 22c, which not only follows a longer route but also runs less regularly.
Margaret added: “It’s a vicious cycle - buses aren’t reliable, so people stop using them which leads to further cuts.”
A Stagecoach spokesperson said: “On October 29, following discussions with SYMCA, the 22 was replaced by the new 22a and 22c providing new direct links to Barnsley Hospital and providing up to four buses an hour between Barnsley Town Centre and Gilroyd through the day.
“The 22a and 22c serve areas where there is demand from passengers allowing our buses to serve as many people as possible in the community whilst maintaining a sustainable service.
“Passengers can catch the 22a and 22c from Dodworth Road which is a short walk from St Edward’s Church.
“More information about service changes can be found at stagecoachbus.com.”
These are not only issues caused by the latest alterations, as highlighted by South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard in his campaign to ‘fight for a fair bus deal’.
In recent community events, the mayor has been providing info on the current position he is in when trying to improve the network, while asking the public about the specifics of their problems.
He said: “The people of Barnsley, like the people across the whole of South Yorkshire, are facing services which are hugely diminished, which are not reliable enough and which don’t service the needs that they have.
“I hear from people across South Yorkshire and Barnsley in particular where they are not serviced by these routes in a way that allows them to see friends and family, to get to work, to get to hospital appointments or anything else.
“We’ve got to get back to a better service.”
A further meeting will be held at Hoyland Leisure Centre on Monday at 6pm for people to share their concerns.