Transport campaigners welcome Welsh Government plan for one national bus network
Transport campaigners have welcomed the Welsh Government’s plans for one national bus network.
The government is currently consulting on a plan to create one network, one timetable and one ticket across the whole of Wales.
Transport Action Network Cymru have called on people to back the proposals, saying that it would make buses more attractive, more accessible and better integrated with rail and other modes of transport.
It said that greater use of buses was key for getting people out of their cars to reduce carbon emissions quickly enough. Local authorities will also be able to run bus services again. The consultation ends on 24 June.
Paula Renzel, Welsh roads and climate campaigner for TAN Cymru said that currently, bus services in Wales were notoriously unreliable and expensive, with impractical timetables, while competition between providers doesn’t work for passengers.
“We welcome these reforms. They are ambitious, radical and long overdue,” she said.
“Buses are the backbone of our public transport system yet have been ignored for too long. Services have been in sharp decline over the past decade and that needs to be reversed.
“For example, Merthyr Tydfil and Bargoed have lost services yet with one of the lowest rates of car ownership in Wales, many people have been left stranded.
“The proposals will put the bus back at the heart of an integrated transport network. They will give people more choice and improve many people’s lives. People’s quality of life and opportunities shouldn’t be dependent on having access to a car.
“In this period of economic uncertainty, bus services need to play a central role in connecting people to their jobs, family, friends, goods and services at an affordable price.
“It’s essential people take the time to respond to this important consultation so the Welsh Government hears just how important bus services are and acts quickly to resolve the current situation.”
‘What the hell they like’
Last week Lee Waters, the Deputy Climate Change Minister, said that the Welsh Government was looking at giving local authorities the power to nationalise bus routes.
Describing the current transport system as “dysfunctional” he also said that under the current arrangements in Wales “commercial bus companies can basically do what the hell they like”.
Speaking to ITV Wales’ current affairs programme, Sharp End, Mr Waters said the government is looking at ways to make it easier for local councils to set up public companies to run transport services.
“But we’re not entering this with an ideological view, we will do what’s best for the passenger,” he added.
“We want to plan the system in a far better way, take out the randomness of the private market, which is the legacy of the 80’s privatisation.
“At the moment commercial bus companies can basically do what the hell they like and we have no way of saying this route needs a bus service.
“We want to move onto a planned system, where we’re calling it franchising, where we take an area and we say right here’s the amount of subsidy; here is where we want the route; here’s the frequency; here’s the cost, now let’s make a bus service work for people rather than work for shareholders.”
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Franchising is a minefield – just look at the risible rail efforts in the UK. The success of developing a comprehensive bus network will depend very much on how exactly the franchise model will be designed. There are many ways in which they can go awry, and offer hidden or perverse incentives to counter-productive actions. From the above article, the exact model is unclear as yet, and some later iterations may be required. There are strong arguments in favour of free public transport (bus and rail within Cymru), one being the need to compete with the very low marginal cost… Read more »
Is it to reduce road traffic? I thought it was to improve bus services, and that means a national service, but not a free one. Free means rubbish in this case.
Correction We don’t appear to be there yet.