Fresh co-operation expected to improve public transport between Sheffield and Barnsley
The border between Sheffield and Barnsley is treated as a ‘brick wall’ for bus services it has been claimed, with a call for more work to provide streamlined services across the Sheffield City Region to help improve commuter journeys.
Barnsley Coun Hannah Kitching, leader of the town’s Lib Dem group who represents the Penistone West Ward, told colleagues: “There are a lot of people here who work in Stocksbridge and it is really, really difficult to travel across the border on public transport.
“That is a criticism of both local authorities. They seem to see the border as a brick wall rather than something people need to pass. For me, that is an issue for the City Region. I think it is important we focus on cross-authority working,” she said.
David Shepherd, Barnsley Council’s regeneration boss, told a meeting of Penistone Area Council a new strategy for bus services was being developed, which will be considered by the council’s ruling Cabinet in future.
Consultation work is currently in progress, assisted by outside experts ARUP.
“It is a real opportunity to promote public transport and active travel,” he said.
“We need bus services which not only work for Barnsley but fits in with the Sheffield City Region.”
Coun David Greenhough said: “Other wards in Barnsley simply don’t face the logistics of getting people in from these (remote) areas. It is not asking for special consideration, it is just geographical logistics.
“It needs some real looking at and to give people options when they live in far-flung areas.”
Coun Kitching added: “The paradox here is the more you run the service, the more people would use it. You pull back, the less they use it.”
The meeting heard that a community bus service which has financial support from the Area Council has been successful and has recently expanded with a new once a day service to and from Holmfirth, which also provides links for those in the remote villages of Dunford Bridge and Crow Edge.
It has funding until the Spring, with moves now being made to find ways of making it self-supporting in future.
The service is operated by South Pennine Community Transport, a not for profit company, and it is hoped they may be able to collaborate with commercial companies to help find solutions to running effective and affordable rural services.
Coun Dave Griffin, who was behind the idea to introduce the service, said: “South Pennine have some really good ideas as to how transport could be different to that provided by the major providers.
“I do think there are some good ideas coming up from the not for profit sector. I think they could work with the bigger players to provide rural services,” he said.
There is also an aspiration to see more rail services on the Penistone to Huddersfield line, which are currently restricted to one an hour.
The service uses sections of single-track railway and more frequent services would need that upgrading, but Mr Shepherd told councillors funding sources may be available in future, with the Transport for the North organisation looking at investment proposals.