Welsh bus network could be grown by over a third – report
A report published today (3 November 2023) claims the Welsh bus network could be grown by well over a third.
Proposals published in the report Y Ffordd Gymreig (The Welsh Way), from data analytics specialists Tracsis and CPT Cymru, details how adopting the Minimum Subsidy model of bus franchising will empower bus operators to invest and improve connectivity for millions of passengers. It envisions the possibility of nearly 40m additional journeys over the next four years.
According to the report, when Jersey adopted the Minimum Subsidy model, the bus network reaped the following benefits:
- A 13% increase in passengers in the first year
- A 38% increase in passengers over the next four years
- Enhanced customer satisfaction, with overall satisfaction in Jersey up 18% between 2014 and 2020
And if Welsh Government moves to follow suit, the Welsh bus network could see:
- Cost savings from more efficient network design, which then allow operators to keep their fare levels low helping millions with the cost of living
- Numerous service enhancements, including new routes meaning millions of passengers could benefit from increased connectivity
“Welsh Government would set the network, fares, branding and vehicle specification, while operators would be able to invest, grow patronage and reduce costs through innovation and efficiency” – CPT Cymru Director, Aaron Hill
Commenting on the report launch, CPT Cymru Director, Aaron Hill, said: “Welsh Government’s One Network, One Timetable, One Ticket White Paper is a welcome move towards a longer-term plan for buses. But through its proposed gross cost franchise method of delivery, there are significant risks to the public purse, operators, and passengers.
“CPT Cymru’s research clearly shows the ‘Jersey Model’ strikes the right balance between Government control and using the skills and expertise of commercial operators for the public’s benefit. Welsh Government would set the network, fares, branding and vehicle specification, while operators would be able to invest, grow patronage and reduce costs through innovation and efficiency.”
The report comes after a long-term decline in funding from Welsh Government, which saw a reduction of 52% in mileage for supported bus services in the ten years before the pandemic. By comparison, commercial services actually increased by 5% over the same period, which CPT puts down to innovative management from operators.
Welsh Government set out its ambitions to franchise bus services in Wales in their White Paper last year. Legislation is set to follow in 2024 and an update in the Senedd is expected next week from the Deputy Minister. The first franchised services could hit Welsh roads in 2026.
Hill continued: “Bus services in Wales have faced huge challenges in recent years. Our plan sets out a way that Welsh Government can work with operators to deliver better journeys for Welsh passengers.
“Regulatory change alone will not change the economic reality of delivering bus services. However, our long-term plan supported by careful investment, can deliver the bus services the people of Wales deserve.”