Boris Johnson promised ‘Bus Back Better’ but failed, claims South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard

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The Mayor of South Yorkshire, Oliver Coppard, claimed that Boris Johnson’s ‘Bus Back Better’ plan failed after which the public transport system in his county is worsening. He said that his predecessor Dan Jarvis put in a bid to govt for over £400m to fix buses in the region but didn’t get a single penny.

“That was part of Boris Johnson’s ‘Bus Back Better’ plan, which was supposed to deliver £3bn of funding but (surprise) ended up being less than half of that money. We didn’t get a single penny,” stressed Mayor Coppard.

He said he has been South Yorkshire‘s mayor for 15 months, and from day one, fixing the public transport system across his region has been his priority.

While explaining the older public transport structure in South Yorkshire, Oliver Coppard said, “We used to have a world-class bus network in South Yorkshire, but it’s been getting worse for forty years. The truth is the whole system is broken.”

He then highlighted that South Yorkshire is not alone in being failed by Boris’s ‘Bus Back Better’ strategy. Bus services are getting worse everywhere, with around 2800 services being cut since 2021 alone.

He said that public transport failure in SY is a huge problem. The Mayor added that it holds back the economy, stops people from accessing opportunities, like jobs or education, and often means people must travel by car when they are in both a cost of living and environmental crisis or not travel at all.

“That’s why it’s a priority for me and why I’ll keep pressing the govt for more money & more powers so that we can fix our buses,” he said.

He said that he had challenged all 3 Prime Ministers since becoming Mayor and had just this week written to Mark Harper (SoS for Transport) to push for an urgent meeting about a fair deal for SY.

Mayor Coppard said, “Without more investment or control over our buses, I’ll keep doing everything I can to keep services going. We spend around £70m yearly on our network, and we’re now using every available penny of our reserves to save as many routes as possible.”

While taking priority school buses and those services people use to get to and from work, he said, “We are urgently working through the government’s legal process that will allow us to decide if we can have more control over our buses.”

The Mayor noted that the leaders were promised ‘levelling-up’ & a ‘London style transport system’ everywhere across the UK and added, “That’s the system we used to have; where we run the buses, we decide the fares, routes & timetables, & where buses are a viable 1st choice. I’m determined to keep fighting for that future.”


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