Stagecoach confirms Welsh cuts…
Following the announcement of its plans to cut services in Wales and close its Brynmawr depot (see B&CB 1271, 11 April 2014), Stagecoach has confirmed it is to reduce its South Wales fleet by 10% from mid-July.
The decision follows what it describes as ‘drastic’ cuts in investment by the Welsh Government. The biggest impact will be felt in Monmouthshire, with services between Newport, Underwood and Chepstow being withdrawn. Changes will also affect Blaenau Gwent where the 30 from Brynmawr to Cwmbran is to be withdrawn. In all, service reductions affect 22 routes across the network. The announcement came just months after both Arriva Buses Wales and Cardiff Bus announced service reductions as well as the closure of Arriva’s Aberystwyth depot.
Stagecoach has been in discussions with representatives from local authorities in the affected areas to give them as much notice as possible of the planned changes to allow them to consider alternatives. The company is also consulting with trade union representatives over the planned closure of its Brynmawr depot from July. The depot currently employs 77 staff and operates around 30 vehicles. Confirmation of the service reductions follows years of cuts in government investment in bus services. The operator claims it has ‘no option’ but to reduce services and close the depot after the Welsh Ministers’ decisions to cut bus service support by 25% last year, along with reduced bus investment from local authorities. Stagecoach has also made clear it is likely to mount a legal challenge unless ministers change their plans to make a £24m cut to the country’s concessionary travel scheme.
MD of Stagecoach in South Wales, John Gould, said, ‘Make no mistake, ultimate responsibility for the loss of bus services and jobs lies firmly at the door of the Welsh Government following years of cuts to bus investment. We deeply regret the impact this will have on our customers and local communities. Instead of protecting and supporting bus travel, ministers’ misguided decisions have dealt a body blow to the country’s public transport network and wider economy. People across Wales have repeatedly warned the government about the consequences of their actions, but sadly they have refused to listen. We are continuing to consult trade union representatives on the planned closure of Brynmawr. We hope to retain an outstation at the depot, with fewer staff, and will try to redeploy as many people as possible elsewhere within our South Wales business.’