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£39m boost for bus travel in Wales

15 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Lee Waters with a T22 bus

The Welsh Government has confirmed support of £39 million over the next 12 months for the bus industry in Wales.

Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters, who has responsibility for transport, has confirmed the funding will be provided through a new ‘Bus Network Grant’.

The grant will be made available to local authorities to secure services once the Welsh Government’s Bus Transition Fund comes to an end on Sunday, March 31.

The new Bus Network Grant will begin on April 1 and run for the next 12 months.

Local authorities will be required to meet specific conditions to receive funding.

These include ensuring routes and timetables support improved journey times, deliver opportunities for greater connectivity where possible, and improved information about bus timings.

Stability

Lee Waters said: “The Bus Network Grant will bring stability to the industry as well as increased public control of bus services.

“It will also act as a bridge from the emergency funding that has been provided towards bus franchising.

“It will include specific conditions that will encourage improved regional co-ordination of bus services; network ticketing and the need to ensure accurate and up to date information about the bus services provided.”

For the last three years, the Welsh Government has been formulating plans to reform the way buses in Wales are run.

Last week it published details in a road map of bus reform and, later this year, a Bus Bill will be introduced in the Senedd.

Under the new proposals, the current system where bus operators decide where to run services based on where they can maximise profit will be replaced by a system of ‘franchised’ contracts.

Transport for Wales, local Councils and the Welsh Government will work together to design bus networks that link key services and tie up with other buses and with train timetables all using one ticket.

Companies will then be able to bid to run the whole package of routes for an area, not just the ones that are the most profitable.

Disjointed

Lee Robinson, Transport for Wales’ Executive Director for Regional Transport and Integration said: “Bus franchising will bring an end to a disjointed system, where it’s up to private companies to decide which routes to run, and instead, councils and the Welsh Government work in partnership to agree local and regional bus networks that serve the needs of communities.

“It will also enable Transport for Wales to tie in bus routes with train timetables, to create an integrated public transport system and a single ticket which can be used for both.”

The Welsh Government has also published the Learner Travel Recommendations Report 2023 today (14 March).

The report sets out a series of recommendations to help improve the consistency, quality and safety of learner travel provision across Wales.

The report recommends a comprehensive update to the statutory guidance documents which outlines the roles and responsibilities of all those involved in learner travel and is available online here.

Mr Waters added: “The cost of running existing school buses is around £160 million a year and has significantly increased – it now accounts for about a quarter of non-delegated spending on schools by councils.

“Making free travel available to more pupils would obviously add to that bill considerably at a time when the overall Welsh Government budget has faced cuts of £1.2 billion.

“We see school transport as fundamental to our plans to bring buses back under public control, linking school transport and scheduled services and supporting investment in modern buses that are accessible for all.

“By working together, we believe that we can foster a socially, environmentally and sustainable culture of responsible travel to school.”


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anon
anon
3 months ago

Rydym angen gwasanaethau bws lleol nid TRAES Cymru yn unig. Mae Arriva yn torri i lawr ar wasanaethau yng Ngwynedd ac yn ynysu cymunedau. Gobeithio na gaiff Arriva ‘franchise’ yng Ngymru a fe gaiff cwmniau bwsiau lleol y cytundeb.

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
3 months ago
Reply to  anon

I don’t disagree at all with your point on local services, but the TrawsCymru services are regional rather than local services. They’re serving a different purpose and one which I feel Wales does well. There is nothing comparable in England.
It should be both not either/or.

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