New Rural Bus Services Piloted in Wales

From the BBC News web site, 22 April 2014.

Two councils to pilot new bus services in rural areas

Stagecoach buses
The councils will look at new ways of providing bus services in their area.

Two parts of Wales are to get £100,000 each in a bid to develop better public transport.

The Welsh government cash will be spent on year-long projects in Ceredigion and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The pilots will use council vehicles as well as coordinating existing bus and community services.

The announcement comes just days after Wales’ largest bus operator, Stagecoach, confirmed it was cutting services in five counties.

Cardiff Bus has also blamed a cut in subsidy for reducing its services.

The Welsh government says it wants the pilot projects to help find new ways of delivering public transport.

Vale of Glamorgan council’s remit will include looking at how to encourage more people to use rural bus routes, setting up an online booking system and reducing the costs of services.

New public transport routes to communities around Tregaron will form part of Ceredigion council’s scheme, as well as using its own vehicles to bolster bus services.

The work to identify best practice from local authorities will report to the Bus Policy Advisory Group.

Stagecoach buses
Stagecoach blames a cut in subsidy for the loss of or reduction in its services.


Transport Minister Edwina Hart said: “I want to ensure everyone in Wales is able to access jobs and services via reliable public transport.

“We must start looking at new and innovative ways of delivering these services, particularly in rural areas, by means of a sustainable and efficient network.”

Ms Hart announced councils will have £25m in 2014-15 toward socially-necessary bus and community transport services, the same amount as in 2013-14.

Service cuts

Bus operators, including Stagecoach and Cardiff Bus, have blamed the Welsh government slashing its three-year funding package from £213.3m to £189m for the cutbacks they have made.

Stagecoach announced last week that it was cutting 14 bus services, putting 77 jobs at risk.

Last autumn Arriva announced the closure of its Aberystwyth depot as well as a number of route losses blaming cuts in public transport funding and rising fuel costs for the decision.

In February, BBC Wales revealed nearly 100 subsidised bus routes have been scrapped by councils in Wales in the past three years, with further cuts expected as authorities make savings.

The Welsh government has said the new reimbursement rate for bus operators was set following an independent review to ensure operators were “no better and no worse off” by taking part.


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