Posted: Tue 18th Apr 2023

Union calls on First Minister to convene urgent summit to prevent ‘decimation’ of bus routes in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Apr 18th, 2023

Unite the union is calling on First Minister Mark Drakeford to convene an urgent summit involving key stakeholders to prevent the imminent ‘decimation’ of bus routes in Wales.

Unite estimates that the Welsh Government’s upcoming withdrawal of BES (Bus Emergency Scheme) funding to bus operators will result in the cancellation of between 35% – 45% of Welsh bus routes and hundreds of job losses across the sector.

Senior Unite representatives from across Wales met yesterday to formulate a plan to save services and their members’ jobs.

They have agreed that an urgent summit meeting must take place within weeks, involving key representatives from Welsh Government, trade unions, TFW (Transport for Wales), bus operators and the WLGA.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary said, “The withdrawal of BES funding will be a disaster for our members and the communities they serve. The First Minister needs to act now and convene an emergency summit meeting of the key players to avert this crisis.”

“Unite will not sit back and watch the bus services that communities across Wales rely upon be slashed, leaving workers, families and vulnerable people isolated and without access to public transport.”

During the pandemic, the Welsh Government provided more than £150 million in emergency funding to help keep bus services running.

However, passenger numbers have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, and politicians are concerned about the impact of withdrawing support funding on bus routes in Wales.

Plaid Cymru MS for North Wales, Llyr Gruffydd, has warned that pulling this “essential” funding would be “catastrophic” for those who rely on bus services, and called for an 18-month extension of the emergency scheme to provide stability.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar MS, also expressed disappointment at the decision, saying it would be “detrimental” for remote and rural areas in Wales.

Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, announced the extension of the BES until July 24, aiming to stabilise the industry and adapt bus networks to post-pandemic travel patterns.

Waters has also requested TfW, local authorities, and the Community Transport Association to form regional network planning teams to assess the impact of BES’s end and address potential network issues.

This collaborative effort will ‘optimise the network, maintain access, and work towards building a strong and sustainable bus network for Wales.’

“The Welsh Government will continue collaborating with local authorities and operators to maximise funding and support franchising plans,” he said.

 

 

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