The Welsh Government will make £46m available from bus budgets to support local services for the whole financial year, including the strategic Traws Cymru services, Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change told the Senedd.
This is in addition to the £45m spending on concessionary fares for older people, reduced fares for young people and our other regular support for the bus industry, including the £25m Bus Services Support Grant, and all the funding indirectly invested in the industry through local authorities, particularly for school transport.
It has further agreed to an above 10% increase in funding support to operators for the concessionary fares and it wants to integrate schools services into the normal network.
The deputy minister said Welsh Government is committed to a single bus service throughout Wales which meets the current changed needs of passengers which are more leisure and less commuting journeys.
Services will be reviewed between Transport for Wales, local authorities and operators to maximise the benefits of a new service arrangement.
He said, “The challenge we have is to design with local authorities and operators a network of services that best serve passengers in the time we have available to plan and within the funding that is available.
“This is a task that can only be done at a regional level and in partnership. The work we have done and the relationships we have built in responding to this crisis has put is in a stronger position to get ready for franchising. And the issues it has thrown up make the case for further reform unanswerable.”
He concluded, “We must have a bus system that is based on the needs of people, not on the needs of the market. For it to be sustainable we need more people using our buses.”
A new campaign to get people to use buses will be undertaken.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar MS, responded, “The minister’s comments sounds like we will get a scaled back Labour owned bus service.
“A service that doesn’t run frequently or often enough to fulfil everyone’s needs. Yet he wants to ban all new road building, further restricting the ability of people to travel around Wales.”
She added, “I welcome today’s announcement that the Welsh Government is making £46m available to support BES for the whole financial year, I’ve had a series of conversations with bus operators in my area, who are pleased the funding is coming. Although, it doesn’t go far enough.
“Why isn’t the Labour Government taking innovative action to encourage people to use the bus and help towards making it a permanent shift in people’s lives? Other parts of the UK are benefitting from support from the UK Conservative Government with the £2 fare cap which is running until November 2024. Once again, it’s all stick and no carrot from Labour in Cardiff Bay.”