Sioned Williams, Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales West is calling Welsh Government to take action to secure bus services amidst concerns raised by her constituents.
Sioned Williams said:
“The beginning of a new school year can be an exciting time, with many children looking forward to their new class, new teacher and, for some, a new school. However, in the last week I have heard from many parents who have been anxious about how they’ll be getting their child to and from school due to changes in bus services.”
At the end of last term, Welsh Government ended emergency funding which had provided vital support for the bus network throughout the pandemic. Even with some funding being made available through the Bus Transition Fund, higher costs and a lack of full passenger number recovery have meant that many services are no longer viable.
As a result, it has been estimated that 10% of bus services were reduced or withdrawn over the summer, including the service that used to take pupils from Rhos to Cwmtawe school in Pontardawe. Fears have been raised by the Confederation of Passenger Transport that up to a quarter of bus routes could be lost if funding isn’t secured beyond April next year.
Sioned Williams added;
“Some parents in Rhos have told me that they have been forced to seek alternative transport after the early morning 256 service that used to take pupils to Cwmtawe school was withdrawn. For many this means extra costs and difficulties in getting to work on time. I have also heard from people who have been forced to use a car more often with all its associated costs and environmental impact, and one family from Birchgrove, Swansea told me how they now face multiple journeys by bus to travel a relatively short distance with their son who has a learning disability.”
“Buses are essential services, providing people with access to education, employment, and key public services. It is often the only means of transport for those on lower incomes, for disabled people and for older people. It isn’t acceptable for people to miss out due to funding cuts.
That is why I am writing to local authorities across the South Wales West region to get a better understanding of how funding changes have affected local services and what measures are being taken to mitigate some of the impact, and why I’m joining party colleagues to call upon Welsh Government get onboard and back the bus by ensuring long term funding, bringing forward legislation to re-regulate bus services and do more to highlight the contribution buses make to our social, economic and environmental wellbeing.
I am proud to be supporting Bus Users UK Catch the Bus Month campaign this September. For those who don’t regularly use public transport, switching just one journey a month from car to bus can help reduce emissions, ease congestion, improve air quality and safeguard these vital public services.”