Young people 'held back' from finding jobs due to transport, report says

Rail services in the Five Towns 'are in need of improvement'.
Rail services in the Five Towns 'are in need of improvement'.

Bus and rail services are “not fully meeting the needs of local people” in towns around Wakefield, according to a new draft report.

The report, compiled by a council scrutiny board, says that the cost of public transport is a “barrier” to young people seeking employment and rail services in the Five Towns are in need of improvement.

The paper, which will be discussed by councillors next week, has made recommendations for improving experiences for passengers in the region.

In its key findings, the report said that “young people lack confidence in public transport”, noting that concerns relating to transport were in the top three issues raised by the Youth Forum.

The report said: “A key issue is the timing of bus services which are at the start and end of the school day. This places significant limitations for some pupils wanting to access after-school activities.

“There is a need to raise the aspirations of young people in order to access more opportunities through better and more frequent transport connections.”

It added that the cost of ‘transport is a barrier to education and training,” despite concessions offered to 16 to 18-year-olds.

The report also recommended that connectivity between West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire be improved, having consulted with several town and parish councils.

It said: “Generally dispersed rural areas are less well provided for than urban ones or ones located on main corridors. Cross boundary provision from South Yorkshire is quite weak.”

In response to the consultation, Ackworth Parish Council said that parts of their community were “isolated”.

“Ackworth residents are poorly serviced by public transport especially at the beginning and end of the working day,” their response read. “The services currently provided are inadequate to enable a person to get to and from a place of work or education easily and those that run are not reliable.”

Hemsworth Town Council also said that people were struggling to find employment because of the high cost of travelling to South Yorkshire.

It said: “We also have cross boundary issues with the lack of public transport to Barnsley where development is taking place and jobs are available."

The report recommends that Wakefield Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) undertake research into where young people are working and speak to bus operators to improve school services.

The WYCA have also been advised to make sure up-to-date information on bus services is available to passengers without smart phones and that it continues to support the desire for better trains in Castleford and Pontefract.