‘Real shame’: not the funding to sustain Wales’ buses as they stand
Funding for Wales’ buses into the future will not be enough to keep the services as they currently stand, according to deputy transport minister Lee Waters.
His words come after it was announced that Wales’ Bus Emergency Scheme (BES) is to be extended for three months, taking it beyond March when it was planned to cease. However, the Welsh government says there is need to transition away from emergency style funding.
The scheme was introduced to avoid mass cancellations of bus services as a result of the pandemic.
Described as an initial extension, the extra three months is intended to give the bus industry short term stability while work continues on planning bus networks to better suit new travel patterns since the end of the pandemic.
It comes as the Traffic Commissioners have temporarily reduced the deregistration window to 28 days. The extension of funding together with the 28-day window is intended to mean there is no need for operators to make decisions on their future network in the very immediate future.
“…clearly, it’s not going to be enough to keep the services as they currently stand, and that is a real shame” – Lee Waters
Speaking at the Senedd yesterday (14 February 2023), Lee Waters said: “The challenge we have in the short term is the finance we need for buses, and we’re all very concerned about the situation the bus industry now faces.”
He continued: “There is simply money not there in the short term to make up that shortfall, which was never meant to have been sustained; it was an emergency fund. It was never meant to be a permanent solution.
“That said, we do need to safeguard the network as best as we can. We’ve managed a three-month extension, and we’re working closely with the industry and local authorities to try and do what we can, but, clearly, it’s not going to be enough to keep the services as they currently stand, and that is a real shame.”