At Wales’ second Bus Summit, Transport Secretary Ken Skates announced £3.5m for local authorities to improve audio-visual equipment on board buses and real-time technology at bus stops.
The purpose of the bus summit, first held last year, is to provide an overview of the activities now in place to support the industry and provide a clear direction for the bus industry in Wales.
Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates said, “I called the first summit last year because 2016 saw mixed fortunes for the bus industry in Wales.
A five point plan in 2017 I introduced sought to stabilise and support the industry in the short term.”
The latest meeting lookedat longer term solutions to deliver a quality service in which passengers can have confidence.
“This is an opportunity for us to share ideas and look to the future of the industry, define what we want our bus services to deliver and understand how we can better work together in order to deliver the quality, sustainable services communities across Wales expect and deserve.
|“The money will help provide tangible results for passengers to enjoy. It will speed up the implementation of on-bus audio-visual equipment, including technology to bring on-board ‘next stop’ announcements. It will also make possible improvements to related infrastructure, such as stops, shelters, signs and flags, timetable displays and accessible kerbs,” said Mr Skates.
“The funding demonstrates Welsh Government’s continuing strong commitment to the bus network throughout Wales. It is a reflection of the support we give to our buses and to delivering an effective network for communities as part of an integrated, multi-modal system of public transport right across Wales.
“Local scheduled bus services are, and will continue to be, the foundation of our public transport system, allowing people across Wales to get to work, hospital appointments, education and leisure activities.
“They are vital to Welsh life and actually account for around 100m passenger journeys each year, which is why this summit is so important for the healthy future of our bus industry.”
|But opposition Assembly Members want more done for Wales’s bus services.
Welsh Labour’s neglect of the bus network in Wales over the past twenty years has left services in tatters: Since 2010, spending on bus service provision by the Welsh Government has fallen by over 20% and in 2015/16 alone, 53 separate bus services were reduced, altered or withdrawn, said the Conservatives.
In addition, the number of registered bus services in Wales has declined from 1,943 in 2005 to just 1,283 in 2016.
Commenting, Conservative Transport Spokesman, Russell George AM, said, “What passengers in Wales want to see is a more clean, safe and reliable bus network which is valued and invested in by the Welsh Labour Government.
“Summits alone won’t improve services and only proper levels of funding underpinned by a genuine understanding of the importance of bus services to communities will deliver the services that Welsh taxpayers deserve.
“Wales desperately needs fresh thinking on how to deliver an integrated public transport network, yet sadly this Welsh Labour Government has clearly run out of ideas as to how to deliver it.”