Bus routes axed in 2023 restored as contracts for 42 local bus services are awarded
Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter
Contracts have been awarded for 42 local bus services and a number of services which were axed in 2023 have been restored following lengthy negotiations.
Neath Port Talbot announced the agreement after what was described as months of negotiations with transport companies in the area, with the local authority now handing out contracts worth more than £3 million per year for public transport.
It will see 42 bus services running across Neath Port Talbot, seven of which will be brought back after the Welsh Government’s bus emergency scheme ended last year, leading a number of bus routes across the country to be reduced or in some cases scrapped altogether.
Speaking after the latest tendering process, a council spokesperson said: “The successful outcome of the council’s tendering exercise with bus companies comes at a time of turmoil in the bus industry as, after Covid-19, many travelling members of the public have not returned with passenger numbers down 50% on pre-covid levels throughout Wales.”
Welsh Government funding for local bus services in Wales’ south west region was said to be worth £10.06 million for the 2024-25 financial year, representing a cut of £733,700 from the £10.8 million given in 2023-24.
Officers also informed members of Neath Port Talbot Council that the current bus transition fund in place at the moment would end on March 31, 2024, to be replaced by an alternative grant named the bus network grant from April, 2024.
Sioned Williams, Plaid Cymru member of the Senedd for south Wales west said: “I want to thank the Plaid Cymru councillors and all members of the rainbow coalition and Neath Port Talbot Council officers who have managed to safeguard a large number of services despite cuts in funding from Welsh Government.
“One year ago this month, the Welsh Government announced it would end the bus emergency scheme, despite increasing costs for bus operators and reduced revenue because of the slow post-pandemic recovery in passenger numbers. I have spent much of this last year challenging the government on their decision, and have made the case for increased investment in what I consider to be essential community services.”
The reinstated Neath Port Talbot bus network will now include:
Service X6 (Morning) Ystradgynlais to Swansea Bus Station
Service 256 (Morning) Neath Victoria Gardens to
Service 256 (Evening) Neath Victoria Gardens to
Service 38 (Sunday) Swansea Bus Station to Neath Victoria
Service 81 (Hourly) Port Talbot Bus Station to Brynbryddan
Service 82 (Hourly) Port Talbot Bus Station to Sandfields
Estate (Golden Avenue)
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