Column: Bus Services

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 7th June: 

Buses are a lifeline for so many people in communities like ours, and changes to services can have a huge impact on residents’ lives.

Last year, I ran a survey on the proposed cancellation of a bus route in Barnsley.

The responses I received from many of my constituents demonstrated just how vital local bus services are.

One person, for example, told me that their only option if the route was cancelled would be using taxis, which would be too expensive to get to their hospital appointments.

Another described how they would have to walk the several miles home from work in the dark, on their knee replacement.

And they won’t be the only ones who would struggle, because bus services vital in areas like Barnsley.

But sadly, cuts to bus routes are becoming all too common an occurrence, and I’m now working to save another bus route in my constituency.

Stagecoach’s proposed changes to the 219/219a bus service would leave many residents in Great Houghton with a significantly reduced service, and no direct bus link to Doncaster.

Time and time again, privatised bus companies put their own profits before the passengers who depend on their services on a day-to-day basis.

Since 2010, 3,000 bus routes have been cut across the country, and bus companies have made £3.3 billion in profit.

In the same period, fares have risen more than three times faster than wages, forcing passengers to pay more for less.

Bus services here in Barnsley are particularly important to the elderly and those who can’t drive, and are often the only means some people have for visiting the shops, getting to medical appointments, or paying bills, which many elderly people still do in person rather than online.

That’s why I’m pleased to see Labour promising that we would spend £1.3 billion a year on reversing cuts to bus routes, and funding the creation of new ones, as well as giving local authorities the power to bring bus services back into public ownership.

And that’s why I’m calling on the Government, Stagecoach and other bus companies to follow my Party’s lead, and prioritise passengers over corporate profit.