Half of buses could be scaled back or axed warn South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis, MPs and council chiefs

Half the buses in South Yorkshire could be scaled back or axed without more government funding, local leaders have warned.

Monday, 28th February 2022, 4:26 pm

Mayor Dan Jarvis, MPs and council chiefs accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being ‘asleep at the wheel’, as government support to keep bus services on the road nears an end.

WHEN WILL THE CURRENT EMERGENCY FUNDING END?

Emergency funding to maintain services during Covid-19 - which saw passenger numbers plummet - will end on 31 March.

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From left: Coun Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council; Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South East; Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport; Dan Jarvis, Mayor of South Yorkshire and MP for Barnsley Central; Coun Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council and Chair of the MCA’s Transport and Environment Board.

Leaders gathered at Olive Grove Depot in Sheffield to highlight the impact this will have in South Yorkshire – and urged to PM to ‘wake up’ to the impending disaster.

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Without further support, half of buses in South Yorkshire face being scaled back or cut completely, they say.

And Government has halved the £3 billion funding for its flagship Bus Back Better policy to ‘level up’ bus services outside of London.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN LONDON?

South Yorkshire’s pleas for cash have been mirrored at Transport for London. Earlier this month it called for funding for three years and received two weeks’ worth. That was followed, on February 21, by enough for four more days. On February 25, TfL said Government had confirmed an extension of funding until June 24.

Mayor of South Yorkshire Dan Jarvis said: “The Prime Minister has a bad track record when it comes to keeping his promises and buses – and he is asleep at the wheel as South Yorkshire’s services face disaster.

“Local leaders and I have invested millions to keep South Yorkshire moving and cut fares, while exploring every option to transform our network. This week, the MCA will consider whether to start a formal investigation of bus franchising.

“I’ve pressed operators to put passengers before profit and reconsider damaging cuts, but the Government’s failure to level up bus funding will fatally undermine our efforts to give South Yorkshire the bus service we need and deserve.”

Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley said: “The Tories in Westminster simply don't understand how many people are totally reliant on buses on a daily basis. If our buses aren't reliable and affordable, it means people are stopped from getting to work, to medical appointments and seeing friends and family. Lots of people can't just hop in a car if their services are slashed. Equally, they can’t just find the extra cash if fares rise.”

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