Newport Council declines to comment on termination of Fflecsi bus service
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
Newport Council has declined to comment on the termination of the Fflecsi bus service, despite some residents viewing it as an essential service.
Last week Transport for Wales announced the pilot scheme for Newport was ending on 25 September “after a successful 12-month period of trialling demand responsive travel in an urban environment.”
The scheme “provided substantial data that will now be analysed and used to improve future public transport route planning in the area,” It added.
The fflecsi service ran from early morning until evening and provided residents a flexible approach to public transport. It aimed to make it easier to attend appointments, get to work, and connect with other buses or trains.
Newport City Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it would not be commenting on the termination of the scheme, because it’s run by TfW. But, when the Fflecsi bus service expansion was announced in July 2021, TfW stated that it was “working in partnership” with Newport City Council and Newport Bus on the scheme.
Newport Bus will announce its new timetable on August 22, and the new services will be introduced from September 4 – three weeks before the fflecsi service is terminated.
Nathan Dubb, who lives in Caerleon, said he was “absolutely gutted” to hear the scheme was ending.
Mr Dubb, who is currently looking for work, had been using the service to get to job interviews. He said: “I haven’t got a car at the moment so when they told me they were going to stop I just thought ‘why’?
“I recently went to a job interview in Rogerstone and I was only going to take the job because of the fflecsi service, it’s the only way I would get to night shifts.”
Leader of Newport Conservatives, Matthew Evans, said he believed the service was permanent – not a trial – and found the announcement “bizarre”.
In July 2021, an expansion to the Fflecsi bus service in Newport was announced – following a successful local trial in Rogerstone and St Julians. In this announcement, TfW did not mention that the service was temporary.
Cllr Evans, who represents Allt-yr-yn, said: “Admittedly, when it was rolled out I had numerous complaints. But the point of doing this is ironing out the teething problems and then role it out to areas such as Allt-yr-yn which are more rural.
“The intention of the Fflecsi bus was great but the council hasn’t followed through with it. If you want people to use public transport then this is the type of service to provide. I do know residents did like using the service, there are some parents who will be disrupted because they used them for the school run.
“It’s a Transport for Wales service, but the loss of it directly effects residents in Newport.”
Traditional bus service
A Transport for Wales spokesperson said: “Our fflecsi service in Newport was a pilot study that allowed us to gather important information and data using demand responsive travel in an urban environment.
“Through analysis of the data and due to the very high demand on certain urban routes, a more traditional fixed bus service would be more effective to meet customer’s needs.
“We are now working with Newport Bus and Newport Council to use the information to plan and improve future public transport routes in the Newport area, this was the purpose of the initial pilot.
“The pilot was initially funded for nine months and then extended for a further three to obtain more data, so that a more informed decision could be made for the future network.”
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