The majority of bus services in Wales will be protected thanks to a new transitional scheme announced by the Welsh Government today (Friday, June 16).
Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters published details of the Bus Transition Fund this morning in a joint statement with the WLGA and bus operators.
The Deputy Minister with responsibility for transport confirmed the fund would replace the Bus Emergency Scheme which comes to an end late July.
The Deputy Minister said: “Today I have published a statement with industry partners and local authorities setting out further information on our financial support to the bus industry for this financial year.
“As a direct result of this funding we will be able to avoid mass cancellation of services across Wales.
“It will provide immediate financial support to bus operators in Wales so that those vital services can continue.
“We are making £46m available from bus budgets to support BES and the Bus Transition Fund arrangements for the whole financial year. This funding will also keep the strategic TrawsCymru services running.
“Over the last few months, we’ve been working hard with the Regional Network Planning Teams and operators to plan and cost a network of bus services which can be delivered when the emergency funding ends.
“The funding available will ensure that the majority of the current services will be protected across Wales although some services may change to reflect different travel patterns following the pandemic.
“Regional Network Planning Teams continue with their detailed analysis of the bus network that will be delivered through our Bus Transition Fund.
“This work will be done at pace so that any potential future network changes are communicated with as much notice as possible.
“We will continue to work together to develop a longer-term sustainable funding model that bridges the gap to franchising.”
Cllr Andrew Morgan OBE, Leader of WLGA, said: “There has been some really intensive joint work undertaken by councils with operators, Welsh Government and Transport for Wales to protect as many bus services as possible whilst passenger numbers recover.
“The financial position has been particularly challenging due to the huge increase in costs and reduction in passengers.
“WLGA welcomes the Welsh Government funding but acknowledges that we simply can’t protect every route
“The Bus Transition Fund will enable us to move steadily away from emergency funding back towards a mix of commercial and supported services.
“I’d like to thank all of those involved in working to find a way forward and it will be really important that we do all we can to encourage people to use the buses so we sustain as many services as possible”
Aaron Hill, Director of Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: “The Bus Transition Fund is good news for bus passengers throughout Wales, providing them with greater certainty over their travel to work, school and to see friends and family.
“Operators have worked hard with local authority colleagues over recent months to identify the routes that needed support, adapt the network to new travel patterns, and to protect the services that are most important to the people of Wales.
“We will now work closely with Welsh Government and local partners to grow services and encourage people to get back on the bus.”
Director of Coach and Bus Association Cymru, Scott Pearson added: “The Coach and Bus Association Cymru membership welcome the partnership style of working with Government adopted to ensure our customers continue to receive the bus services they rely upon each and every day.”