MORE bus routes at risk of being cut due to a lack of funding are set to be saved thanks to a multi-million pound package which will be poured into continuing ‘lifeline’ services.

County bosses are set to sign off on the latest raft of financial support outlined in the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority’s ‘Bus Service Improvement Plan’ dossier.

By doing so, it will trigger the release of almost £8m which will go towards providing extensions for tendered services such as the one which serves Kingstone.

Following well-attended public meetings at St Edward’s Church in Kingstone and protests at Barnsley Interchange, a new SYMCA-paid service the 33 replaced the former Stagecoach-operated 43 and 44 which served the Broadway area until October’s axing.

The Chronicle understands next week’s sign-off will continue the service due to its success.

Rob Fairy, director of strategic transport at the SYMCA, said: “The paper seeks delegated authority for the approval and submission to the Department for Transport (DfT) of the 2024 Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) refresh.

“The DfT have stated that the release of 2024/25 BSIP revenue funding to local transport authorities is contingent on submission of an updated BSIP document, containing a ‘minimum viable product’ level of information, by June 12.

“The submission of the refresh will trigger the release of £7.82m revenue funding for 2024/25 which will mainly be used to fund tendered bus services.

“Without this funding tendered services may have to be withdrawn, depriving communities of public transport options mostly on evenings and weekends, increasing transport-related social exclusion.

“It will set out proposals for improving the bus service that are aligned to driving transformational growth, improving health and reducing transport-related social exclusion.”

Campaigners have been calling for a franchising system which would effectively see operators bidding for SYMCA-run bus contracts in a bid to drive up standards, although a review into its feasibility is yet to have its findings revealed.

However, members of Better Buses for South Yorkshire hope Mayor Coppard who pledged his support to their campaign will speed up the process after he brought the county’s trams back into public control after 27 years.

Campaigner Matthew Topham added: “Buses should work for the communities they serve, not shareholders living overseas.

“No other European country has handed control of its transport network over to fat cats as we have.

“It would allow smoother journeys, better value tickets, and a new passengers over profits approach on the region’s buses.

“It can’t come soon enough.

“It’s music to South Yorkshire ears when the mayor calls out bus privatisation and commits to public control.

“But that strength of feeling means our communities are all the hungrier for a clear indication of when we can expect a formal decision on this crucial policy.

“With the impact of private bus company cuts on our local communities hitting the national headlines, we need to focus on delivering this change more than ever.”