Hopes for the future of successful rural bus service

Extra option: The 25 service provides more choice than traditional services like this in Penistone
Extra option: The 25 service provides more choice than traditional services like this in Penistone
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Work has started which could secure the future of a local bus service in Barnsley which has been operating for a year with council funding, but which needs fresh income if it is to continue after the Spring.

The number 25 offers a loop service which links Penistone with surrounding villages and was introduced as a reaction to a string of service cuts in the area, made as a result of the cash available for South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to subsidise services was reduced.

It is an unusual arrangement, operated by the South Pennine Community Transport organisation rather than a mainstream bus company, though it works like a traditional service, with free passes for the elderly still valid for journeys.

Penistone Area Council, a body made up of local councillors with its own budget from Barnsley Council, has put three grants into the system, with the most recent £20,000 to support the service for the current financial year.

Now SPCT is looking for ways to continue the service, which has been well-received in the district, after that deadline.

Penistone west Coun Dave Griffin was instrumental in getting the service established and said: “They are looking at making it sustainable in other ways.

“They are looking at how that might happen by reducing the call on the public purse and looking at all options which might help fund the operating costs.”

Because the service takes people into Penistone who otherwise might not visit and shop there, one option is to establish whether any businesses would be willing to offer support.

There may also be ways to reduce operating costs, which could include buying the vehicle – currently leased – outright, or finding another use for it in the afternoons when the 25 service does not operate and the vehicle currently stands idle.

Coun Griffin said: “I intend to meet with South Pennine Community Transport shortly to look at the options and see if I can help them in any way.”

The 25 service has a driver who is able to help passengers on and off the vehicle, making the service an option for some who would otherwise be reluctant to use public transport.