Welsh Government announces £48m emergency support package for bus industry
The bus industry in Wales is set to receive an emergency support package worth £48m from the Welsh Government.
The Bus Emergency package will provide ‘gap funding’ until the end of this financial year for bus operators to maintain the necessary bus services and routes in their area, in return for greater public control over Welsh bus services.
This funding is one of a number of short-term measures that have been taken by the government to support bus operators as they recover from the impact of the pandemic and deal with emerging financial challenges including rocketing fuel costs.
With the longer-term future of the bus industry in mind the government has also confirmed a review of the existing Bus Services Support Grant (BSSG) scheme will be undertaken to consider how it can be used to move the industry away from a reliance on emergency funding schemes and bridge the gap to franchising.
Earlier in the year, Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters launched a public consultation on bus travel in Wales and said he planned to bring forward legislation to change the way bus services are delivered across the country.
The Deputy Minister said designing a system that is “easy to use, easy to access and well connected” would be his top priority to offer people a “real sustainable transport alternative” to the private car.
He said that they would now work closely with local government, the bus industry and passengers on a proposed franchising model that aims to eventually deliver “one network, one timetable and one ticket”.
Announcing the latest emergency funding package, Mr Waters said: “The bus industry is emerging from some of its toughest times, and we need to continue to provide support to help the industry recover and secure a healthy future.
“During the pandemic passenger numbers fell by around 90% and have still only returned to between 50% and 70% of pre-Covid levels, leaving operators struggling with reduced revenue and contending with the latest challenges of rising fuel and operating costs.
“The funding I’ve announced today will provide a short-term solution to help the industry to begin to recover from the challenges it has and continues to face whilst we develop a longer-term solution to tackle the gradual decline in passengers over the years.
“In March I set out our plans to bring forward legislation to change the way bus services are delivered across Wales.
Throughout this process we will be working closely with local government, the bus industry and passengers, to design a system that is ‘easy to use, easy to access and well connected’ providing people a ‘real sustainable transport alternative’ to the private car.
“We will provide an update on how these plans are progressing later this year.”
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