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New partnership will shape bus travel in the public interest

Adobe stock: St Mary Street in Cardiff

Leading figures in the public sector and the bus industry have signed a new agreement to deliver better bus services that meet the objective of an integrated transport system.

Included with this agreement is an additional £37.2m of funding to continue to support the bus industry in the coming financial year. This will give further reassurance to operators, enabling them to plan for the future.

The agreement has been signed by bus operators, local authorities, Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, commented:

“This agreement puts the public interest at the heart of our bus network. Working closer together will enable a fundamental reshaping of local bus services, better meeting the needs of passengers.

“The challenges of coronavirus, climate change and changing working patterns mean we have to do things differently. We’ve committed significant public funding to support bus services and it’s only right this leads to improvements for passengers.

“I’ve been pleased to see the positive response of the industry so far and look forward to working in close partnership to create more accessible routes and services. A sustainable future for our transport network means public transport being a convenient option for more people as we develop alternatives to the car.”

Under the terms of the agreement operators will be required to provide bus services that meet local needs. It will seek to ensure everyone works together to support the recovery of the whole network. Priorities will include supporting learners’ journeys to school, increasing services in situations where demand exceeds capacity, and supporting economic recovery.

The agreement will also support integration across transport modes through things like smart ticketing and integrated timetabling. It will provide a framework for closer partnership working between the public sector and bus operators.

Joshua Miles, CPT Cymru Director, said:

“The Bus Emergency Scheme (BES) partnership is good news for bus passengers throughout Wales. It sets up a clear mechanism by which BES partners will support passengers back on to public transport with confidence as restrictions are lifted.

“Through BES all partners may now work closely together to build back better for the future. The commitment towards developing bus priority measures, enhanced ticketing solutions and vehicle initiatives will be crucial in reducing congestion and the transition towards zero emission vehicles.

“Travel by bus is an important part of getting our lives back to normality. The BES partnership will help the nation recover from Covid-19 and drive further improvements for bus passengers in Wales.”

Scott Pearson, Chair of CaBAC – Coach and Bus Operators Cymru, representing the SME operators in Wales – said:

“We are pleased to have played a full part in the discussions on the future of the bus industry in Wales leading to this agreement. Building on the support from the Government over the past twelve months, our members will now want to work with our partners in the Government, TfW and Local Authorities to secure and improve passenger services across Wales.”

Councillor Andrew Morgan, WLGA Leader said:

“Welsh Government, TfW, local authorities and bus operators have been working together constructively to sustain a level of service throughout the pandemic. This agreement stems from this close partnership work. It provides a foundation for us all now in seeking to rebuild patronage, encouraging increasing numbers to use public transport over time for a wide range of journeys, as conditions permit.”