Sorry state of service provided by low-speed local transport

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From: Mrs Mary Tyler, Highland Close, Pontefract.

I REFUSE to get excited over the proposed HS2 train link while local public transport is such a shambles.

We needed to visit our grandson in the Leeds General Infirmary recently. Our son’s car was off the road and we had lent him ours. Having an aversion to driving in Leeds – with its attendant problems of finding and paying for parking – and being the proud owners of concessionary passes, my husband and I decided to travel by public transport.

Thinking that the train would be quicker than the bus, we walked to Pontefract Monkhill station, half a mile from our house, in good time for the 16.20 to Leeds. At 16.10 the electronic sign told us the train was cancelled, and a call to the Information Point produced the unhelpful news that this was due to a “train fault” and no, a replacement train would not be forthcoming.

Unwilling to wait another hour for the 17.20 train, we walked up to Pontefract bus station and were just in time to catch a bus to Leeds which arrived at about 17.30. The City Bus then took us to the Clarendon Wing of the LGI, where we had an hour or so with our grandson and then a drink and sandwich before leaving for our journey home. We decided to return by bus as we did not fancy the half mile walk home in the dark and thought there might be a choice of buses once we got into Pontefract town centre.

We arrived back in Leeds bus station at 20.20 to find that there had been hourly buses to Pontefract at 18.45 and 19.45 but there wasn’t a bus at 20.45 and the next one would be at 21.45. However, there was one to Castleford at 21.15 and we got on that, thinking we would be that much nearer home. On arrival in Castleford we were pleased to find we had only five minutes to wait for a Pontefract bus, except that it went through Cutsyke, North Featherstone and Streethouse before finally arriving in Pontefract at 22.50. We had had enough of public transport for one day and made the final mile home by taxi.

My husband and I lived 25 miles apart before we were married and often joked that we had paid for a double decker between us with the number of trouble-free journeys we made to see each other every weekend. However, that was more than 40 years ago and before we had our own transport, and there has obviously been a deterioration in service since then.

Although cities and large towns have good transport links, thousands of people in smaller towns and villages are very poorly served by public transport, particularly in the evenings and at weekends. It is not surprising that the roads are clogged with private cars and taxis when the public alternative is so poor.

From: Graham Wroe, Sheffield Green Party, Glencoe Road, Sheffield

PAUL Blomfield MP is not representing the views of his constituents when he campaigns for the new high speed trains to be routed through the middle of Sheffield.

Central constituents do not want the roar of 250mph trains on their doorsteps or their houses demolished to make way for them. Many will not be able to afford the fares on a service designed to get business people to London a bit quicker. Do we really need this in the age of superfast broadband and worldwide internet conferencing?

The Green Party wants huge investment in the railways, but our priority would be to improve local transport. Imagine what could be done with a fraction of the £32bn planned to be spent on this scheme. We could extend Supertram now so it links the hospitals to the city centre and the suburbs, reducing the need to drive.

We could improve the appalling conditions on overcrowded commuter trains with more carriages and new engines. We could invest in “safe routes to school” and 20mph limits in residential areas to stop our children being killed on the roads. We could re-open stations like Heeley, giving more people easy access to the rail network. We could create cycle networks, separating bikes and cars as they do in Holland, making cycling a safe, attractive choice.

Let’s get our priorities right and invest in transport that will improve all our lives and reduce our CO2 emissions.