Alexander Stafford MP writes in this week's Worksop Guardian about the need for a complete overhaul of bus services in his Rother Valley constituency.
You can read the following article here or in the latest edition of the newspaper.
My constituents will be aware that I have made improving transport connectivity in Rother Valley a top priority. Since my election, the poor bus service in our area has been one of the issues that constituents raise with me time and time again. These complaints are invariably levelled against First Bus who operate the vast majority of routes in the constituency.
I have spoken countless times in Parliament, with Ministers and Government, and to local authorities and stakeholders about my frustration with the bus provision in our area. The situation is disgraceful - buses are infrequent, tickets are expensive, coverage of the constituency is patchy and incomplete, and the services that do exist are utterly unreliable. The problem is especially acute given that Rother Valley is a transport desert: car ownership in Rother Valley is lower than the national average, we do not have any rail infrastructure to connect our towns, and the semi-rural nature of the constituency makes cycling and walking between settlements totally unfeasible.
Rother Valley’s transport situation means that buses are absolutely critical in connecting our communities. Accordingly, First Bus has a duty to ensure that our towns and villages are well connected and that local people can rely on their services. My constituents using the bus network include children going to school, the elderly attending GP appointments, vulnerable individuals accessing vital services, and employees travelling to work. Regrettably, the company is failing us badly at the moment. The poor bus service is making my constituents late for work and school and is resulting in key appointments being missed – this has a corrosive effect on the quality of life of local people.
I have received reports of elderly people standing at bus stops for two hours in all weathers to ensure that if one bus does not arrive, they still have a chance of catching the service an hour later and thereby making their appointment. Short distances that take fifteen minutes in a car can take as long as two hours on a local bus. This state of affairs can no longer continue.
In response, I raised the issue in Parliament with the Prime Minister last year and as part of this initiative, I launched the Rother Valley Transport Task Force (RVTTF). I am pleased to announce that the RVTTF is hosting a meeting with the CEO of First Bus, Nigel Eggleton, on 10th March 2021 at 10am. This is open to all residents of Rother Valley and will be our chance to put our questions and concerns to Nigel and to communicate our vision for better public transport at a local level. If we are to truly level up Rother Valley, we must be able to access services and opportunities both within the constituency but also in Sheffield, Worksop, Rotherham, and Doncaster.
Due to the current coronavirus restrictions, this meeting will take place virtually, via Zoom. If you would like to receive the joining details, I invite you to please contact me at email@example.com along with any questions you may wish to raise during the meeting. I look forward to seeing many of you there on 10th March.