£24.6m transport boost to increase employment

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SOUTH Yorkshire has been handed almost £25 million of government funding to improve public transport links and make it easier for people to travel to work.

Transport bosses say the changes will benefit 10,200 businesses and 226,000 workers - and help boost the economy and create jobs.

The £24.6m of funding - distributed from the Department of Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund - will be targeted on projects in Barnsley, the Dearne Valley, Don Valley and Doncaster.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, which will administer the money, said it would help businesses reduce traffic congestion, help employers recruit staff from further afield, and encourage sustainable commuting.

Over the next three years the Dearne Valley will see new cycle routes, a new park-and-ride facility at Elsecar, and a bus feeder route at Wentworth and Shortwood.

Barnsley will also get cycle paths and traffic management programmes, as well as an immediate increase in the frequency of the X19 bus service to Doncaster.

Money will be invested in a new tram feeder service at Malin Bridge, and in the Don Valley for bus priority and traffic management schemes, new tram stops and cycle paths.

The regeneration of important sites in Doncaster will be boosted by traffic work on the waterfront as well as congestion relief measures and redevelopment at Adwick.

Mick Jameson, chairman of South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, said: “We are confident this funding will enable a step-change in our ability to help people access jobs and help employers reach the right people.

“The Government wants to see carbon emissions reduced and this money will help facilitate economic growth while helping people to travel in a sustainable way.”

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey said: “When money is tight, to win any investment in the Dearne is a success. This funding will build on transport money secured last year as part of the Dearne Valley Eco-vision.

“The planned improvements are exactly the kind of work we are focusing on - connecting villages, boosting jobs and reducing carbon use.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “This major investment is another huge boost for Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire region.

“It will benefit thousands of local businesses and help create new jobs and economic growth. It is precisely this sort of action that Liberal Democrats are determined to bring about as part of the Coalition Government.”