The pilot will apply to all buses on the extensive TrawsCymru network from tomorrow and run every weekend until at least May 2018.
It’s hoped the scheme will act as a catalyst for bus travel in Wales, boosting not only the number of passengers but also wider use of the TrawsCymru routes.
In launching the scheme, Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates said, “From Bangor to Cardiff, Fishguard to Wrexham I hope to see this scheme provide the perfect excuse for people from across Wales and beyond to jump on the bus and spend their weekends enjoying the diverse beauty of Wales.
“The TrawsCymru network covers large areas of Wales, some of which would otherwise be inaccessible by public transport and, with the summer tourist season around the corner, I’m excited about the impact increased passengers could have on tourism in these areas in particular.
“The free service is subject to availability, but we have also provided additional funding to local authorities to ensure operators are able to deploy more buses to meet increased demand if necessary. Provisions have also been made to reimburse operators of other local bus services should they experience any reduction of passengers as a result of this pilot, although we are optimistic it will have the opposite effect.
“I’m delighted to launch this ground breaking scheme and look forward to seeing as many people as possible making the most of this fantastic offer to travel across Wales by bus for free.”
It’s hoped the initiative will not only benefit passengers, but will also provide a boost to destinations and tourist attractions both directly on the route and beyond. One tourist attraction hoping for such benefits is the Brecon Beacons National Park.
John Cook, CEO Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said, “The TrawsCymru free weekend travel initiative will give more people across Wales access to the Brecon Beacons National Park. Along the T6 and T4 routes there are many towns and attractions including the wide open space of the Central Beacons, the market town of Brecon and Craig y nos Country Park. We encourage everyone to get out and use the free T6 and T4 bus services to explore the Brecon Beacons further this summer.”
The Welsh Government will use the pilot to help build a better understanding of how reductions of this nature affect the wider demand for public transport before deciding on its future beyond May 2018.