Welsh cuts warning
Operators represented by CPT Cymru have warned against the Welsh Government’s plans to cut £24m of its funding for senior citizens’ concessionary bus travel. If this proposal goes ahead, it will lead to ‘major service cuts and job losses’, according to the operators. The Welsh Government has confirmed a three year funding package of £189m for its free bus travel scheme across Wales, which has been cut by over 11% from the £213.3m package provided over the past three years. The concessionary funding cut also follows a 25% reduction in BSOG in the last 12 months. Operators are now deciding whether to lodge a legal appeal against the Government’s proposed cuts.
In a letter to Welsh Transport Minister, Edwina Hart, CPT Cymru said, ‘CPT and its members are extremely concerned about the impact of these cuts on people who rely on bus services in Wales. This decision will raise bus fares and hit living standards for low income passengers who are not covered by the concession scheme. It will also threaten jobs and lead to reduced bus services, thereby potentially cutting people off from accessing education, employment and health facilities.’
The planned cuts in funding for concessionary bus travel come as figures obtained by BBC Wales under Freedom of Information legislation reveal that nearly 100 subsidised bus routes have already been scrapped by councils in Wales in the past three years. Figures show that nearly one in seven routes across 19 council areas have been axed, with further cuts expected as cash-strapped local authorities seek to make further savings.
CPT Cymru Director, John Pockett, said, ‘No one disputes that governments and local authorities are facing tough spending choices. As an industry, we have offered to work with the government to find a sustainable solution, which protects the country’s bus network for everyone and ensures it continues to support the economy, jobs and local communities in Wales. But businesses, local authorities, charities and support groups should all be hugely concerned by the Welsh Government’s poorly thought out plans. We would urge everyone who cares about the quality of life in Wales, particularly those who are the poorest and most vulnerable, to join us in urging the government to rethink its proposals.’