The Welsh Government has announced that it is to make significant funding available for public bus services until April 2021.
Cllr David A Bithell, Lead Member for Environment and Transport has welcomed this funding, he said: “This is very good news for bus users in Wrexham who rely on public transport to get them to work, school or college.
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“Welsh Government had already provided £10 million for improvements following the initial Covid-restrictions but it was clear that more was needed in order to resume to a normal service and I recently wrote to the Minister requesting this so this announcement is extremely welcome and good news for bus operators who can now provide more services.”
Here’s what the Welsh Government has announced:
Passengers across Wales will benefit from an additional £84.6 million of Welsh Government funding for the bus industry, which will help companies meet the challenges of coronavirus and run more services.
The funding takes total support for bus services this financial year to £140 million.
With a drop in the number of people travelling, and the necessity of social distancing measures being in place, bus companies have been short of revenues in recent months. To keep the industry running the Welsh Government has stepped in to provide funding. Initially this was to support essential journeys, before supporting the ramp up of services as schools and the wider economy began to reopen.
In August £10 million was confirmed to help transport more people to school, college and work. Today’s funding announcement is the largest of its type and brings total support to £140 million.
The funding is also another step from emergency funding and towards longer-term planning and an integrated system. A new agreement – the Bus Emergency Scheme – was recently created to manage funding to the industry. The scheme brings together Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, local authorities and bus operators to reshape Wales’ bus network and ensure funding puts the needs of passengers first.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said:
We want bus services to be meeting the needs of passengers, even in these challenging times. Our continued funding demonstrates our commitment to getting as many services as possible running in a safe way.
The funding will provide some longer-term stability, and given ongoing uncertainties we’ll continue to work closely with local authorities and bus operators to deliver services.
Buses play a vital role in connecting communities and helping people access shops, education, work and leisure. We remain committed to providing the necessary support to ensure efficient services in the short, medium and long-term.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Trefnydd said: “We understand the profound impact the pandemic has had on bus services in Wales. The funding we are announcing today will help to safeguard the future of bus services in Wales and ensure that we continue to have a viable public transport network when this crisis comes to an end.”
John Pockett, Director of CPT Cymru, the body representing bus operators in Wales, said: “This further government funding is very welcome to the bus industry which has faced a catastrophic decline in passenger numbers and revenues as a result of this awful pandemic. Working with our partners in the Welsh Government and Local Authorities, bus operators want to increase services for passengers as activities and the economy start to resume, and this financial support is a great boost in that aim for the coming months. It shows the recognition by the Government of the importance of bus services to local communities and to the Welsh economy.”
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