Work has been started to try to secure the future of a popular community bus service introduced more than a year ago to prop-up regular services covering the Penistone district – with one idea to create a new link to the Fox Valley shopping centre in Stocksbridge.
The Penistone Local Link service is operated by the South Pennine Community Bus Service and uses a small vehicle to operate a circular service linking Penistone with surrounding villages on week days.
Although it has proved popular, it needs external funding and so far that has been provided by Penistone Area Council, a body which is made up of the six councillors representing the district.
Coun Dave Griffin was the driving force behind the service, which was introduced as a reaction to timetable changes which saw many services reduced following the collapse of the district’s main bus operator.
Funding from the area council has been extended already, providing the cash to run the service into the Spring of 2019 but it is now hoped funding from other sources will become available to allow it to continue.
A report to the area council said the service brought “massive benefits”, adding to the local economy as well as providing social and environmental benefits.
One route forwards is to approach Tesco, which operates Penistone’s largest supermarket, with the report stating: “The service benefits Tesco significantly, it is at the heart of the route and is served frequently.
“We are able to offer Tesco advertising space on the exterior of the bus and on the timetable information leaflet.
“We will offer small and medium sized enterprises around the area the opportunity to sponsor the service.
“If the uptake of advertising and sponsorship is significant enough they we will produce a bigger and more comprehensive leaflet containing information about the wider bus network and train services around Penistone.”
A further option would be to find enough cash to buy a bus, which would then reduce operating costs – with the potential to then use it for other work when the Penistone service was not running.
There is also potential to extend the service, possibly providing a link to the Fox Valley shopping centre in Stocksbridge.
That is only a ten minute journey away, but the route is poorly served by commercial services.
Establishing a service to that centre would also open up the possibility of approaching its owners, Dransfield Properties, to help fund the service, along with tenants operating businesses there.