Promises of better buses and wide-ranging transport improvements for Rotherham as Mayor sets out vision for the future

Vision: Oliver Coppard wants wide-ranging transport improvementsVision: Oliver Coppard wants wide-ranging transport improvements
Vision: Oliver Coppard wants wide-ranging transport improvements
RESIDENTS across Rotherham are being promised a better public transport deal in future by South Yorkshire’s newly re-elected mayor, with an expectation of more support for unprofitable services in the town and the prospect of free fares for children.

The move is part of a wide-reaching plan by Mayor Oliver Coppard, who wants to see accessible and affordable public transport across the county.

Work has started on many levels, to bring buses back under public control, improve transport systems including Supertram - which is already to be extended with a stop at the Magna centre - and the ‘walk, wheel and cycle’ initiative to get families leaving cars behind for the school run.

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A key element of that work will be to take control of bus franchises, so profits from popular routes may be pumped back into supporting those which are needed, but currently attract fewer passengers.

That could mean cash from busy Sheffield routes being used to support services in parts of Rotherham, in future.

The Government is being approached for funding support but, Mr Coppard said, that was uncertain as a recent application for £434m to support the county’s buses had been rejected by Whitehall, the biggest proposal in the country to get no funding.

He launched the new initiative at the Advanced Manufacturing and Research Centre at Catcliffe, because that location, offering state-of-the-art apprenticeships, could be reached by just one per cent of South Yorkshire’s population in less than 30 minutes by public transport.

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“We need to make sure that people across South Yorkshire can access opportunity in South Yorkshire,” he said.

He has committed around £130m towards the re-opening of Doncaster airport, which will be subject to a 125 year lease from Doncaster Council, which is the lead authority on that project.

Mr Coppard also wants to introduce seamless ticketing between different forms of public transport, not possible at present with private operators involved.

Work will also be done on introducing free fares for young people.

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That plan is at a fledgling stage, with consultations still to go ahead on how it may operate.

As such, it is unclear what age-groups might qualify for the initiative, or whether it would be introduced across-the-board initially.

It may be that, after research, specific cohorts were directly targeted for trials.

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