Unite secures victory in campaign to save Welsh bus routes
Unite the union has welcomed the announcement by Welsh Government that it is to provide £46m of funding to ensure vulnerable bus routes continue.
Unite had previously warned that the withdrawal of BES (Bus Emergency Scheme) would result in the cancellation of between 35% – 45% of Welsh bus routes and hundreds of job losses across the sector.
In a victory for Unite’s “Back Your Bus Route” campaign, the Welsh Government has replaced the BES with the new Bus Transition Fund, aimed at supporting less profitable bus routes and preventing job losses.
Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary, praised the move, stating, “The introduction of the Bus Transition Fund is a tremendous victory in our campaign to save Welsh Bus routes.”
“This decision will mean that workers, families, and vulnerable people can continue to access the public transport they rely upon, regardless of where they live”.
The fund, unveiled by Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters, will offer immediate financial support to bus operators, averting widespread service cancellations.
The funding will also sustain the strategic TrawsCymru services, preserving crucial connections for Welsh communities.
Deputy Minister Waters added, “As a direct result of this funding we will be able to avoid mass cancellation of services across Wales.”
While the financial aid is set to protect most existing services, the Minister admitted some routes may require adjustments to align with post-pandemic travel patterns.
The Welsh Government, along with industry partners, is committed to creating a sustainable funding model to smoothly transition to a franchising system in the future.
Cllr Andrew Morgan OBE, the Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), expressed gratitude for the collaborative effort, acknowledging the “intensive joint work undertaken by councils with operators, Welsh Government, and Transport for Wales”.
Echoing this sentiment, Aaron Hill, Director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, and Scott Pearson, Director of the Coach and Bus Association Cymru, welcomed the government’s partnership approach and the new fund, both expressing optimism for the assurance this brings to passengers and the industry.
As the transition unfolds, the challenge will lie in balancing commercial and supported services while promoting bus usage to ensure the survival of as many routes as possible.
The future of Welsh public transport appears more secure with the Bus Transition Fund, a beacon of hope for communities that rely heavily on these services.
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