Authority steps in to save bus routes

Thorpe Audlin residents who were concerned about the loss of the number 30 bus through their village.
Thorpe Audlin residents who were concerned about the loss of the number 30 bus through their village.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has stepped in to fund and save bus services due to be affected by changes coming into force this weekend.

It said amendments to routes 29, 30 and 48, operated by Stagecoach, will leave parts of between Barnsley, Hemsworth, South Elmsall, Upton and Pontefract with little or no service.

The WYCA said Stagecoach was making the changes on commercial grounds.

A WYCA spokesman said: “Because these changes would mean some communities having much reduced service levels while others would be left with no service at all, West Yorkshire Combined Authority tried to find replacements.

“Local bus companies were contacted but none were prepared to try running these important journeys on a commercial basis.

“As a result the Combined Authority is funding services to replace some of those that have been withdrawn, in particular where there was no alternative service available.”

The 29 service will only operate between Barnsley and Hemsworth, no longer serving South Hiendley, South Elmsall and Upton.

The number 48, from Pontefract to Upton via Hemsworth, will be withdrawn.

And the current 30 bus will only operate between Barnsley and Brierley, no longer serving South Elmsall, Upton, Thorpe Audlin and Pontefract.

Distressed villagers raised concerns about the changes to the latter service last week, fearing they would be cut off from shops and amenities in neighbouring towns.

The WYCA said new services 30, 30A, 39 and 39A would be introduced from Monday, January 30 to cover a route from Pontefract to Hemsworth, via Thorpe Audlin, Upton, South Elmsall, Moorthorpe and South Kirkby.

The routes would be operated by M Travel.

Coun Keith Wakefield, WYCA chairman said: “Although we don’t run buses, each year the Combined Authority spends almost £20m funding journeys which the bus operators would not otherwise provide due to commercial concerns.

“This represents around 15 per cent of bus journeys in West Yorkshire usually during weekends, at night and in rural areas or during holiday periods. They provide vital links to connect people and whole communities with work, education and training, family friends and essential amenities and services.

“Because these journeys being withdrawn this weekend connect people in the Wakefield district with employment opportunities in the Barnsley, we have decided to provide funding to ensure these vital links aren’t lost.”

For full details of the changes, visit www.wymetro.com/changes