Council offers targeted support to areas hit by bus cuts
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
Cardiff Council says it will provide “targeted” support to areas impacted by the major changes to services announced by Cardiff Bus on Monday.
The bus operator announced that it is having to cut and change a number of its bus services amid a lack of funding and the failure of passenger numbers to fully bounce back following the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its statement Cardiff Bus also said that it is having to factor in additional journey time for its new timetables to navigate worsened levels of congestion.
Cardiff Bus said it also needs to consider the new 20mph speed limit, changes to road layouts and loss of highway capacity in its changes.
Cardiff Council said changes to road layout and additional bus lanes are part of its plans, as set out in Cardiff’s Transport White Paper, to improve public transport.
A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “Cardiff Council is using the limited funding available to provide targeted support in areas where bus services are being withdrawn by the operators and there isn’t alternative public transport available.”
Funding from the Welsh Government’s Bus Emergency Scheme came to an end in July.
The Bus Transition Fund – jointly announced on June 16 by Welsh Government; Transport for Wales; WLGA; Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers; Confederation of Passenger Transport; and Coach and Bus Association Cymru – seeks to address this to facilitate a long-term, sustainable transition to franchising.
“As set out in Cardiff’s Transport White Paper, provisions are being put in place to improve public transport, including bus travel, as well as cycling and walking routes.
“For bus services, the road layout is being improved with additional bus lanes and strategic bus corridors which will run from the Cardiff Capital Region into the city.
“As with all development, while these improvements are made, there will be disruption to the highway network, and we will continue to work with all bus operators to mitigate the impact as best as possible.
“In the longer term, the council is working on bus network improvements that will address areas of congestion and provide improved interchange to access a wider range of destinations and other forms of transport.
“We hope that this will see more people choosing to travel around the city by bus.”
Cardiff Bus said that during pre-pandemic times more than 90% of its revenue came from customers making journeys with its services.
At present the company is seeing just over 80% of pre-pandemic customers returning to its services.
Cardiff Bus’ statement, published on August 7, said: “This is now the new base level that we must work from as we move back to operating with reducing support.
“These are hard decisions, but we must make changes to maintain a sustainable network in Cardiff and eastern Vale of Glamorgan.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We provided the bus industry with vital support through the pandemic and announced a further £46m in May to support operators and protect the Traws Cymru network.
“With passenger numbers still well below pre-Covid levels, our funding has helped ensure we are not facing wholesale route cancelations.
“This has been widely acknowledged by operators including Cardiff Bus.
“In busy, built-up places like Cardiff, the impact of the 20mph on journey times will be minimal.
“We are supporting local authorities across Wales with bus-priority measures to keep passengers moving and make bus travel more attractive.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar MS, said: “Cardiff bus provides a crucial service for the people of Cardiff and the reduction in their services will have a massive impact on those who depend upon it.
“One of the reasons depicted for the cuts in the service is Labour’s foolish default 20mph speed limit. As I have been saying all along, this ludicrous policy will have a massive negative impact on people across Wales and today we have seen the first of many casualties.
“With Labour forcing drivers off the road with their anti-car agenda, reducing public transport at the same time is nothing short of moronic.”
The changes to bus services announced by Cardiff Bus will take effect from September.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.