Extension of emergency funding scheme for bus services in Wales announced
An extension to a £48 million scheme launched last summer to help the bus industry recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic, has been confirmed.
The Bus Emergency Scheme (BES) had been due to expire at the end of the current financial year but has now been extended for at least three months.
The move was announced in a joint statement from the Welsh Government, WLGA, Confederation of Passenger Transport and Coach and Bus Association Cymru.
The BES provided ‘gap funding’ to enable bus operators to maintain key services and routes in their area, in return for greater public control over Welsh bus services.
Without the funding offered by the scheme it was feared there we would been mass cancellations of services and communities across Wales left isolated.
The statement sets out an initial extension of three months from the end of March, to give the industry ”the short term stability it needs while we continue to work together on planning bus networks which better suit the new travel patterns we have seen since the end of the pandemic”.
The announcement of an extension comes amid growing concern at the impact on bus services of the expiry of support.
On Friday, Plaid Cymru’s Gwynedd Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Dafydd Meurig had written an open letter to Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, calling for a replacement scheme to be introduced at the end of the financial year.
Mr Meurig said: “Without such grant money it will be impossible for local authorities to maintain the current public transport network, let alone expand it. The uncertainty also affects the ability of bus service providers to plan ahead.”
“I therefore call on you to clearly state that a suitable grant scheme will be in place by the start of the next financial year, in order to give certainty to travellers, service providers and local authorities.”
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