LONG-HELD ambitions to franchise under-fire buses in Barnsley have been backed by an MP - after plans to given more power to fed-up passengers received support.

The plan, announced by Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh MP, outlines how Labour would create or save bus routes, and end the ‘postcode lottery’ on services.

Stephanie Peacock, the MP for Barnsley East, has been campaigning for better bus services in the Barnsley area for some time and completed a bus tour across the constituency with Ms Haigh last August.

She experienced the issues faced in local bus travel and spoke to local people to hear their thoughts.

Stephanie said: “I am pleased to support the Labour Party’s plan for local bus services.

“Under the Conservatives we have seen a 40 per cent drop in bus mileage locally in the past year alone.

“Here in Barnsley, the impact of this has been felt, with many feeling cut off and isolated and struggling with commuting to work or school.

“Labour’s plan would create or save up to 1,300 bus routes, ensure 250 million more bus journeys each year and end the postcode lottery on buses across the country.”

Government-set rules require county bosses to undertake a three-step evaluation of the policy which includes a technical assessment, audit, and public consultation before announcing a final decision on franchising, which effectively means operators would have to bid for contracts.

Jump-based Fran Postlethwaite, from Better Buses For South Yorkshire, said: “Franchising provides significantly greater public control over our bus services than the present privatised system.

“What exists now allows private companies to choose when and where they run services.

“If a service is unprofitable, it gets axed, leaving communities isolated as in the Broadway area, unless public funding steps in to fill the breach.

“Under franchising the combined authority would decide the routes, fares and timetables.

“Private companies would then be invited to bid to run the network - or a section of the network - and would be paid a set fee with the ticket revenue going back to the combined authority rather than to shareholders.

“That means we could cross-subsidise routes, with more profitable sections of the network being used to support the cost of less popular routes that are still a lifeline to local communities.”

Ms Haigh said the plans could kick-start a revival following years of decline.

““Reliable, affordable and regular buses are the difference between opportunity and isolation for millions of people across the country.

“Four decades of disastrous deregulation of Britain’s buses has robbed communities of a say over the vital services that they depend on, instead handing power to unaccountable private operators who have slashed services.( “Labour will give every community the power to take back control of their bus services, and will support local leaders to deliver better buses, faster.

“Thus will create and save vital routes and services, end today’s postcode lottery of bus services, and kickstart a revival of bus services.”