A CALL to back creating a taskforce to tackle the “crisis” facing the rural bus network in Ceredigion has been backed by county councillors.
The April 20 full meeting of Ceredigion County Council backed a motion, proposed by Councillor Meirion Davies, seconded by Councillor Paul Hinge.
The motion asked: “Given the crisis facing the rural bus network in Ceredigion and rural Wales, Ceredigion Council urges Welsh Government to set up a rural transport task force to urgently tackle this issue.
“We recognise that residents and visitors have not returned to public transport post-Covid, in the numbers we would expect.
“However, as a result of the withdrawal of many rural bus routes due to affordability, our communities are becoming increasingly isolated from accessing public services and socialising with friends and family.
“The withdrawal of many rural bus routes exacerbates rural poverty where the impact is felt most greatly. Vulnerable adults, including older people, and those without transport have a right to access public transport in their communities.
“Ceredigion Council supports Welsh Government’s focus on tackling the climate emergency. Yet by asking residents to move from cars to public transport, investment and the accompanying subsidy for a rural transport infrastructure is required.
“Rural transport must have parity with our larger towns and cities if we are to seriously tackle the climate emergency, and to prevent rural communities from being further isolated.”
At the April 20 meeting, Cllr Meirion Davies said: “The people of Ceredigion deserve the same access to public transport as the big towns, the people in the countryside are just as important. The Welsh Government should be funding public transport,” adding: “I feel that we need to put pressure on the Welsh Government to maintain this service in Ceredigion.”
He was backed by Cllr Paul Hinge, who said: “The important part for me is we’ve got a Welsh government that are quite wide thinking in creating policies and yet they don’t follow it up with the resources to deliver this; it is not the fault of the council; therefore the onus has to be back on Welsh government.”
He added: “Public transport in rural communities such as Ceredigion has been underfunded and we seek parity.”
Councillor Keith Evans said: “Once again policies are coming out of Cardiff and only give very little mention to rural areas, and that is the problem.”
The supported motion, backed by the vast majority of councillors, covers three points.
That Ceredigion Council asks Welsh Government to acknowledge that there needs to be investment in transport in rural communities, and subsidised accordingly.
That public transport in rural communities such as those in Ceredigion, which have been adversely impacted by the underfunding of public transport from Welsh Government, seeks parity of access similar to larger communities.
That a rural transport task force is established immediately by Welsh Government and in conjunction with key stakeholders like Ceredigion Council, to tackle the issue of rural transport.
Picture: Elkanah Evans – Onboard the T1 service to Aberystwyth