Rural Yorkshire villages becoming ‘transport deserts’ due to ‘shocking’ bus services, claims MP
The Labour MP said many of his constituents in the south west of the district rely on the 231 and 232 bus routes to travel to Wakefield and Huddersfield.
Mr Lightwood has written to the bus operator requesting an urgent meeting to call for service improvements.
He said: “Thousands of bus routes have been axed nationally over the past decade, leaving many communities without the buses that connect communities to work, school and hospital appointments. Services have already been cut in this area – leaving residents with an hourly service, which is increasingly not showing up.
“I will do whatever I can to urge Arriva to restore the service that our passengers deserve. The Labour Party has called for the biggest reform to bus services in 40 years with areas offered the opportunity to take back control of their buses.
“The Labour Mayor of West Yorkshire is now consulting on bus franchising for West Yorkshire witha final decision expected in spring 2024.”
In a letter to Kim Cain, Arriva’s commercial director for Yorkshire and the North East, the MP said: “Residents of these villages have described themselves as being in “forgotten villages” and described how they now feel forced to use taxis or cars because of how unpredictable the 231/232 services have become.
“Residents who travel into Wakefield need the certainty that there will be a bus to take them home again. But, for some, this hasn’t been the case. This is unacceptable and is damaging people’s confidence in being able to use Wakefield’s buses.”
Mr Lightwood’s letter also says: “In previous responses to me regarding this service, you have highlighted the current driver shortage.
“While I am aware that this is a key problem that continues to face the sector, services like the 231/232 – which only run every hour – should be prioritised to ensure that these rural communities still have some connections running through the day.
“Too often residents feel like services are being cancelled at such short notice that they have no alternatives and are left isolated. I am concerned that Middlestown and Netherton are at risk of becoming ‘transport deserts’, where residents will lack the public transport options that they depend on to travel around.”
In September last year, Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for planning and highways, accused Arriva of leaving many people in rural areas in the district ‘cut off’ due to service cuts.
At the time, the operator announced that the 212 and 213 services would be reduced. It meant the communities of Netherton and Middlestown each having a two-hourly frequency after the late afternoon peak.
Arriva has been contacted for comment.