Buses finally start operating at new multi-million pound transport hub
Ted Peskett Local Democracy Reporter
A dedicated bus service has finally started operating at a multi million pound transport hub, and reporter Ted Peskett was one of the first to give it a try.
Phase one of Barry Transport Interchange, adjacent to Barry Docks Station, was completed in summer 2023 and includes secure bike parking, four bus shelters and a taxi rank.
The £3m project, partly funded by the Welsh Government and Cardiff Capital Region, could include a cafe and cycle hub in the future.
Vale of Glamorgan Council faced some criticism last year for taking months to secure a bus operator for the transport hub.
An Adventure Travel service which was originally meant to operate at the hub was withdrawn, and Cardiff Bus never ended up committing one of its own services after the council said that the company was reviewing that possibility.
In November 2023, the council finally announced that Adventure Travel service B3 would start running at Barry Transport Interchange from January 8. I decided to take that bus myself on its first day of operation.
Barry Transport Interchange is intended to make getting from A to B by public transport easier and more streamlined.
Off I go…
To make the most of the experience, I decided to take the train from Cardiff Central Station to Barry Docks Station and then catch the bus from there into town.
The two-coach train I caught from Cardiff Central arrived on time (10.25am) and got me to Barry Docks in about 15 minutes, which is 10 minutes quicker than what it would usually take by car.
Much is made of the unreliability of trains in Wales, but on this particular day things seemed to be looking up for the cause of public transport.
On arrival at Barry Transport Interchange, the first thing I noticed – apart from not being able to feel my fingers due to the cold – was how quiet the transport hub was.
It was the first time I’d seen it since construction started on phase one a year ago and I was the only person there, apart from one man standing next to one of the new bus shelters who later turned out to be a council worker seemingly overseeing the operation of the hub.
As well as shiny new bus shelters, there were new benches and new bins in place.
Of the two bike shelters, one contained a bikeep secure bike parking facility which is free to use. The other was a more basic one with frames to lock your bike against.
There was also some landscaping work that had been done in the middle of the site and new segregated cycle paths which link the hub to the Ffordd Y Mileniwm route.
Whilst I waited for my bus, with each extremity of my body gradually numbing in the cold, another person turned up to the transport hub.
Again though, this person, a skater, wasn’t here to use the bus – or even the new bike shelters. In fact, I would be the only one at the hub at that time catching the bus.
The electronic notice board in my bus shelter didn’t seem to be working, but that was fine as I was fairly certain that the next bus arriving would be mine with the B3 being the only service operating at the hub.
My fortune with public transport that day continued as the bus turned up on time (11.13am).
I paid £1.70 for my round-trip ticket and we set off for Barry town centre with one woman as my fellow passenger at the time.
Making our way up Gladstone Road and then down Tynewydd Road near Barry Library, we picked up three extra passengers and continued to the housing estates to the north of the town centre.
One thing I did notice was that despite the small number of passengers being taken around Barry during that particular time, it was clearly a vital service to those who were using it.
Julie Budd, 59, was taking the bus from Barry town centre that day and said she uses the service regularly.
She said she takes the bus to go shopping and would otherwise be walking miles from her home if it wasn’t there.
“Sometimes they are not on time,” said Julie, but she added that the bus is “very important” to her and called recent changes to bus services across the area due to cuts “horrible”.
We eventually made our way along St Bride’s Way and into Cadoxton. We went past the King William IV pub at about 11.37am and it was clear that the bus was continuing to run on time.
In all, it was proving to be a pleasant ride, if a bit bumpy at times. The weather was fine, the bus was clean and I even got a nice view of the sea as we drove back down into Barry town centre.
In terms of my view of the town itself, the streets seemed deserted and that was reflected in the number of people using the bus I was on that morning.
There were never more than five passengers on the 23 seater bus at any one time and in total it picked up 11 passengers including me.
We passed through Holton Road, where it was sad to see the number of premises that remain empty in the town, including the former Burton store and Wilkos.
The bus then turned back on to Gladstone Road and then on to Ffordd Y Mileniwm where it halted at its second to last stop next to Morrisons.
I was the last one on the bus when we arrived back at Barry Transport Interchange at 11.53am.
There was a 10 minute wait for the train back to Cardiff Central and despite the cold, my day out to Barry was trouble free.
The bus I caught was quiet and so was the transport hub, but everything ran on time (for once).
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