Wales sets out plan for nationwide bus franchising

Wales is proposing to roll out centralised, national bus franchising and co-ordinate its councils to create a new bus network integrated with other public transport.

In wide-ranging proposals, loosely summarised as ‘One Network, One Timetable, One Ticket’,the Welsh Government wants to simply the fare structure and make tickets transferable between operators, while clawing back farebox revenues for re-investment, it says. It wants to encourage the formation of municipal bus companies.

The White Paper flags up that the Welsh Government subsidises half the cost of bus services, in which is says it has no say in their development. It calls for the integration of home-to-school and social transport into the network. It’s bullet-point summary of the changes is:

  • area-wide networks with all significant local destinations reachable
  • one ticket system
  • easy to understand network
  • one brand
  • easy and reliable transfer
  • reliable travel times
  • accessible and comfortable
  • public feedback and customer care
  • passenger safety, security and health
  • network efficiency and financial affordability

The White Paper acknowledges that, to achieve these modal shift – it wants to see the 32% share on public transport increase to 45% by 2040 – urban centres need more bus priority and to discriminate against car travel.

However, the Welsh Government adds: ‘Under the current devolved funding settlement, we are unable to provide the kind of long-term funding certainty such a system would ideally receive, but we will work with Local Government to develop an indicative funding envelope against which they can plan, to ensure we are all working towards the same objectives and planning the best bus network we are able to deliver within that budget.’

Wales says that, as the network becomes electrified, it recognises the barriers to entry into the electric bus market to smaller operators, and will set out to lower the barriers and allow SMEs to compete for franchises on equal terms. However, it also proposes to set minimum wage levels within the franchise conditions.

Full details of the White Paper proposals can be seen HERE

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