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Plans to make Cardiff’s bus services more attractive and affordable revealed

Cardiff Bus

Cardiff wants to double the number of people who use buses in the city as part of its plans to reduce congestion and improve air quality across the city.

The city’s council has drawn up a nine-point strategy designed to make buses a more attractive and affordable option for commuters including:

  • Introducing cheaper fares;
  • Working with Transport for Wales (TfW) to develop an integrated ticketing system which works with the Metro;
  • Getting more low-emission buses on the road;
  • Building infrastructure which will make bus travel easier and quicker; and
  • Creating a better customer service.

The council’s Cabinet will consider the bus strategy on Thursday, July 15. If approved a public information pack will be prepared and consultation with the public, partners and stakeholders will begin.

Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, Cllr Caro Wild said: “We know that many people rely on buses to get to work and move around the city as part of their daily lives if we can make journeys quicker, more comfortable, cheaper and more reliable, this will make a big difference to people’s lives..

“Convincing the public to get out of their cars and to take the bus, walk or cycle to work will, I believe, become increasingly important to us all as we face up to the climate emergency and recognise that we have to tackle congestion and air pollution in our cities.

“If we are to do that then we know bus services have to improve. People need to know buses are affordable, clean, green, comfortable and can get them to where they need to be easily and effectively. It has to be hassle free and it has to be a quality service. This is why we have drawn up a nine-point strategy with ideas to transform bus travel in the city and it’s a strategy we believe can start to shift people out of their cars and onto public transport, helping to improve the environment for everyone.”

The council has set out its transport strategy for the next 10 years and its Transport White Paper sets out a number of plans to improve public transport and active travel infrastructure not only across the city but also out into neighbouring local authority areas.

Cllr Wild added: “We want at least 20% of residents and commuters to travel by bus by 2030. That’s doubling today’s number. This won’t happen without a real sea change in the way we operate our bus services. That’s why we’ve drawn up a strategy on how we are going to achieve this in consultation with the public. We believe, working with partners that these nine strategies can bring about the required behaviour change.

“As a local authority working alone, we know we are limited on what we can do. Credit has to be given to the Welsh Government who has secured funding for bus operators through the Bus Emergency Scheme and financially secured the bus industry during the pandemic. This now has to be followed up with new policy to take back more control of our bus services, and properly fund this vital form of transport.”

Cardiff Council’s nine-point strategy includes:

1) Finish and build the required infrastructure:This involves the completion of the Central Bus Interchange and building three Transport Interchanges at Waungron Road in Fairwater, Parkway Station in St Mellons and by the University Hospital of Wales in Heath. A new park and ride facility will also be built off the M4 at junction 33 and options will be explored for another interchange facility at Junction 32 to displace traffic off the A470.

2) New Bus priority ‘smart’ corridors: Several ‘smart’ bus corridors have been identified, including a cross-city route and a possible orbital route to a wider range of destinations without needing to travel into the city centre to go from one side of the city to the other. Services would be more frequent, using electric-powered buses in inner city areas or in areas where there are existing air-quality issues, with quality facilities available on-board for customers to use and improved information available at bus stops.

3) City centre package:As well as the completion of the Central Interchange, further plans involve a number of further transport hubs around the city, so that customers can interchange between travelling by train, bus, cycling and walking. There will be a clear prioritised ‘city centre loop’ for buses, well-located bus stops and facilities for customers to use

4) Integrating with the Metro, integrated ticketing and clear information for customers:The plans involve a number of measures including creating a single, integrated ticket that can be used on trains and with different bus companies. To ensure people can interchange between train, bus and active travel easier, the council will continue to develop separated cycleways and improvements to footways. Improvements will be made to the signage and on-street information so that people can use public transport and active travel more easily, and understand how they can move around the city by interchanging between different modes of travel.

5) Integrated affordable fares:To ensure travel by bus is appealing, the price structure has to be correct and may require prices to be capped. A review will be carried out to establish a single fare structure, including looking at £1 fares and off peak reductions. It is important that tickets can be transferred so they can be used on services, regardless of the company that operates the bus route.

6) Review on the governance and funding for the bus network:This involves the long term options of integrating bus networks, including looking at the option of franchising and partnerships that could arise in the future through Welsh Government legislation.

7) Creating a better customer service:Ensuring that buses deliver a high level of comfort and are digitally connected for customers to make bus travel a more enjoyable experience. 

8) Low emission/zero carbon fleet:This involves increasing the number of zero carbon buses into the bus fleet at a faster rate. Further analysis will also take place on the whole system costs and benefits of electric buses compared with diesel powered buses which can be used for funding bids.

9) Integration of school transport:The plans include making school transport cheaper and easier to use for all school children, while meeting all statutory requirements for children entitled to free bus travel. This will also involve closer integration between travel by bus and active travel plans that have, or are being developed in each school.