Concern over £10m Welsh bus funding
Welsh Government has announced an additional £10m to help the bus industry safely transport more passengers to school, college and work. However, Barclay Davies, Bus Users Director for Wales, is concerned about how the funding will be accessed.
Barclay Davies said: “The timescale for local authorities to make their bids for funding is very tight and many may miss out. Bus services are a vital component of the social and economic recovery of Wales, and operators across the country will need this funding in the short-term, to ensure public transport is sustainable in the long-term.”
The additional £10m of Welsh Government funding is to help operators manage the increased pressure on scheduled bus services. It recognises that social distancing measures are resulting in reduced capacity and that this in turn is significantly affecting ticket revenue. The additional funding is intended to enable operators to increase the number of buses available while also helping to cover costs associated with additional staffing, fuel and maintenance of the bus fleet.
In Wales it is the law that people aged 11 and over must wear face coverings on public transport. This law does not apply on school transport.
CPT Cymru Director, John Pockett, said: “We welcome this funding from the Welsh Government which follows our negotiations with them. Members will be liaising with ATCO colleagues and Transport for Wales to identify where the funding needs to be targeted.
“We want to work closely with the Government here to ensure that the funding support is best used to safeguard the bus industry with passengers firmly at its heart.
“We also welcome the guidance from Welsh Government regarding the return of school transport operations, and recognise the hard work of all involved in its formulation during what has been a worrying time for all concerned and we will continue to work in partnership with all stakeholders to ensure the safe transport of pupils.”
In addition to the funding, Wales’ ‘Essential Travel Only’ restriction for public transport in force since the start of lockdown, is under review.