Welsh Government blasted for ‘allowing bus services to fail’
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Welsh Government of “allowing bus services to fail”.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds made the comments following a meeting with residents in Borth, Ceredigion who have coordinated a petition opposing cuts to bus services across the county.
During the meeting, residents described the deteriorating service in their community and the growing isolation many residents feel as a result.
Concerns are growing about the future of many bus services in Wales with a scheme which was launched last summer to help the bus industry recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic set to expire at the end of the current academic year, on July 24.
The Bus Emergency Scheme (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.
“For months, Welsh Government have strung communities and bus operators along with last-minute and short-term announcements around the funding of bus services. What’s more, the long-awaited reforms to bus services still look no closer to being delivered,” Jane Dodds said.
“The months and months of uncertainty bus operators and communities have faced amount to allowing bus services to fail.”
Former Member of Parliament and the Lib Dems prospective general Election candidate for Ceredigion Mark Williams added: “Rural communities like Borth are being forgotten by the Labour and Plaid Cymru coalition in Cardiff Bay.
“It is abundantly clear that there needs to be a fundamental change in the way bus services are funded and delivered so they focus on meeting the needs of communities.
“It’s time the Welsh Labour Government in Cardiff Bay stopped dragging its feet and brings forward long-term plans to create a reliable, affordable, and accessible public transport system for every community across Wales.”
In a statement confirming the scheme would end at the end next month, the government said it will continue to work with local authorities and bus operators to maximise the funding available for the remainder of the financial year.
“Regional Planning Teams supported by TfW, have been agreed to be established to understand the impact of the ending of BES and to resolve the network issues that are likely to arise from the change in funding regime. This will help optimise the network and maintain as much reach and access as possible,” the statement added.
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