Concern over lack of buses in Cardiff for elderly residents
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
A Cardiff councillor has expressed concern over the challenges that the elderly and disabled in her ward face when it comes to getting the bus.
Cardiff Council ward member for Cyncoed, Cllr Bablin Molik, said she feels that the elderly and those who are less mobile are being left behind when it comes to transport in the city.
On repeated occasions, said Cllr Molik, those who are less mobile in the community have approached her to raise their concerns about using bus services to get across the city.
“Pensioners in Cyncoed are left isolated and lonely as their source of independence, their bus service, has been non-existent in much of the area,” she said.
“Having an inclusive, reliable and sustainable transport system in the capital is key to the success of the city in terms of its economy, growth and environmental benefits and equally importantly for the social mobility, equality and wellbeing of the city’s people.”
Two key concerns that Cllr Molik, along with her fellow ward member, Cllr Robert Hopkins, have raised to Cardiff Bus recently is the frequency of service 52 and the lack of service along Lake Road West.
There is currently one bus per hour beyond the Cardiff Met Campus to Cyncoed Village and buses use Lake Road East twice an hour.
Changes made to the Cardiff Bus timetable to reflect demand during the summer holidays have left commuters and other users frustrated.
The company said that from July 25, it would be using a Saturday timetable on weekdays. Cardiff Bus said it will be restoring services to their normal weekday and weekend provision from September 4.
Commercial director for Cardiff Bus, Gareth Stevens, said: “I have recently updated both Cllr Malik and Hopkins that from our changes in September the 52 will resume two buses per hour to Cyncoed beyond Cardiff Met Campus.
“This is essentially the same level as pre-pandemic.
“As for the active measures in the city centre, we have raised our observations and suggestions for improvements to officers at Cardiff Council and we are working closely with them on these points.
“We want to see a greater emphasis on getting our buses moving and improving bus journey speeds and more reliable bus journeys – meaning that both public transport and active travel become the way in which we move around our city.”
The issue of public transport accessibility was also raised in the most recent full council meeting at City Hall on July 21.
Cllr Molik asked the cabinet member for transport, Cllr Daniel De’Ath: “Is there a commitment to have bus services back on Lake Road West and Celyn Avenue?”
Cllr De’Ath responded by saying it was a “very difficult situation” and pointed to an answer he gave to a similar question from another councillor – that the council “doesn’t control all the leavers for public transport in the city, and if we take the bus service for example… power was taken away from local councils by Thatcher’s 1985 Transport Act”.
He added in his answer to Cllr Molik: “I am more than happy to discuss it with officers and see if there is anything we can do.”
In a statement, Cllr De’Ath said: “This council is committed to doing everything it can to improve bus services across the city.
“We know that right now, buses are the best way for people to move around Cardiff. They can help reduce congestion and the new electric buses we are helping to introduce are cleaner and greener.
“We have never hidden from the fact that a good, affordable bus network is vitally important to the city’s future, which is why we are working towards introducing a £1 bus fare and doubling the number of people using buses in the city as part of our plans to reduce congestion and improve air quality.
“While we believe cycling will become increasingly popular as cycle lanes link up across the city, this is only one part of a strategy to give people more and better options than the private car.
“Options that are better for the environment – and buses are absolutely central to that plan. They are a key element for us.
“We recently consulted on a nine-point strategy to make bus travel a more attractive and affordable option, including introducing cheaper fares; working with Transport for Wales to develop an integrated ticketing system; getting more low emission buses on the network; building the infrastructure to make bus travel easier and quicker and creating a better customer experience for all.
“Of course improving infrastructure for active travel (cycling and walking) and for bus travel, can mean that we have to learn to adapt to new systems.
“This is the same in all cities and is not unique to Cardiff.
“When people get off the bus and there is a segregated cycleway on the road, a pedestrian crossing is in place for people to walk across the cycleway to the pavement, with signage in place for cyclists to give way.
“It’s important that people learn to use these properly and absolutely recognise the rights of the person leaving the bus to cross safely.
“We don’t want anyone feeling that they can’t use buses in the city safely and we are working to see if routes can be improved across the city.”
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What does the chair of Cardiff Bus have to say about this? He may not have operational control, but he does have influence, so a former Councillor told me.