Posted: Tue 5th Mar 2024

Deputy Minister “maps out next steps for buses in Wales”

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The next steps to delivering bus reform for Wales have been set out by Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters today.

Welsh Government say their “Our Roadmap to Bus Reform” ‘builds on the proposals of the bus white paper to radically shake-up the way the public transport system works in Wales’.

“We’re moving from a privatised system that puts profit before people towards one that will plan buses and trains together around the needs of passengers”, Lee Waters, the Minister with responsibility for transport said.

They say the current system where bus operators decide where to run services based on where they can maximise profit will be replaced by a system of ‘franchised’ contracts.

Transport for Wales, local Councils and the Welsh Government will work together to design bus networks that link key services and tie up with other buses and with train timetables all using one ticket.

We asked Flintshire Council about the close working, noting the year by year targets, and enquired what this would look like locally.

We didn’t get a response.

Welsh Government say companies will then be able to bid to run the whole package of routes for an area, not just the ones that are the most profitable.

“This is the most far-reaching set of reforms taking place anywhere in the UK” the Deputy Minister added.

“At the moment using your car is easy but using public transport can feel like a hassle.

“Our aim is to create one joined up network, one integrated timetable which you can access using one ticket. That way we will make it easier to understand how to use public transport, and it will make journeys seamless’’.

Welsh Government say the Roadmap to Bus Reform sets out year by year targets of how the Welsh Government and Transport for Wales plan to approach the delivery of franchising bus services in Wales, “This includes how we intend to work closely with partners and stakeholders, such as local authorities and bus operators to design and deliver services that are ‘easy to use, easy to access and well connected’ for communities across Wales”

“This new approach is proposed to be rolled out on a geographical basis and will take several years to achieve.”

The Deputy Minister continued: “This marks a major milestone on our bus reform journey.

“For too long Welsh bus services have been neglected with passenger numbers steadily falling and some bus routes being cut.

“It’s not going to be an easy fix and it’s going to take time, but bus reform is central to creating an integrated public transport network and tackling transport poverty across Wales.

“Connecting up bus, rail, walking and cycling routes we’ll make it easier for people to make more sustainable choices which is essential if we are to hit our ambitious sustainability goals in Wales.

“The steps that we have outlined today puts people before profit and makes the right thing to do, the easy thing to do.”

Natasha Asghar MS, Shadow Transport Minister, said:

“Labour’s plans will see the taxpayer on the hook for failing services across Wales.

“Given Transport for Wales’ failures when it comes to our trains, and the Welsh Government’s general incompetence when it comes to all things transport, how on earth can we have any faith that this will be a successful venture?

“Since Labour’s 20mph speed limit policy was introduced, we’ve seen bus routes axed and punctuality drop, so if ministers really want to help the sector, they must ditch their £33m speed limit scheme.

“Not only that, but the Welsh Government must shelve its road building ban so Wales can have a modern transport network for bus services to operate on, which will in turn attract passengers en masse.”

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