Poor quality public transport ‘holding us back’, says new South Yorkshire mayor
South Yorkshire’s sub-par public transport network is acting as “a drag on our communities”.
That’s the verdict of Oliver Coppard, who was elected mayor of South Yorkshire just two weeks ago. He said YorkshireLive it will continue its key policy of repairing area buses, trains and trams, so people can travel more easily between Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham.
“The first thing people want to talk to me about is buses and public transport because it’s such a drag on our communities,” he said.
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“In order to keep our communities and our economy running, and to make sure people can see friends and family and get to work, we need a responsive public transportation system.
“At the moment we don’t have any, so I have to continue the work. I have to make sure that I challenge the bus companies to provide these bus services. I have to challenge the government to provide that funding which we have need to operate the public transportation system and then continue to make a difference.”
Coppard’s predecessor Dan Jarvis has been accused of failing to get cash to overhaul South Yorkshire bus services. The government has handed out hundreds of millions of pounds to several parts of the UK, but South Yorkshire has completely missed out on Whitehall’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).
Jarvis – who is still the MP for Barnsley Central – said he had submitted a ‘visionary and detailed offer’ which would have included free fares for under-18s, new priority bus routes, state-of-the-art shelters, fare caps, cashless ticketing systems and a new zero-emissions fleet. However, critics said his proposals were “not ambitious enough”.
A little further west, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin this month announced plans to cap single bus fares in her area at just £2. Like Coppard, Brabin made public transport her number one priority when she was elected a year ago.
She said: “The proposed new maximum fare of £2 will make a difference to people’s lives, helping to make bus travel an affordable choice. It will significantly reduce the cost of travel for people making journeys of more than 3 miles, in some cases £1.50.”