£39m boost for bus passengers in Wales

Written by on 15th March 2024

Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters has announced that support for the bus industry in Wales will continue with £39m confirmed for the year ahead.

The Deputy Minister with responsibility for transport said the funding would be provided through a new ‘Bus Network Grant’.

The grant will be made available to local authorities to secure services once the Welsh Government’s Bus Transition Fund comes to an end on Sunday, March 31.

The new Bus Network Grant will begin on April 1 and run for 12 months.

Local authorities will be required to meet specific conditions to receive funding.

These include ensuring routes and timetables support improved journey times, deliver opportunities for greater connectivity where possible, and provide improved information about the times of bus services.

Deputy Minister Lee Waters said:

“The Bus Network Grant will bring stability to the industry as well as increased public control of bus services.

“It will also act as a bridge from the emergency funding that has been provided towards bus franchising.

“It will include specific conditions that will encourage improved regional co-ordination of bus services; network ticketing and the need to ensure accurate and up to date information about the bus services provided.”

For the last three years, the Welsh Government has been working on plans to reform the way buses in Wales are run.

Last week it published details in a road map of bus reform and, later this year, a Bus Bill will be introduced in the Senedd.

Lee Robinson, Transport for Wales’ Executive Director for Regional Transport and Integration said:

“Bus franchising will bring an end to a disjointed system, where it’s up to private companies to decide which routes to run, and instead, councils and the Welsh Government work in partnership to agree local and regional bus networks that serve the needs of communities.

“It will also enable Transport for Wales to tie in bus routes with train timetables, to create an integrated public transport system and a single ticket which can be used for both.”

Today, the Welsh Government also published the Learner Travel Recommendations Report 2023.

The report sets out a series of recommendations to help improve the consistency, quality and safety of learner travel provision across Wales.

The report recommends a comprehensive update to the statutory guidance documents which outlines the roles and responsibilities of all those involved in learner travel and is available online here.

Deputy Minister Lee Waters added:

“The cost of running existing school buses is around £160 million a year and has significantly increased – it now accounts for about a quarter of non-delegated spending on schools by councils.

“Making free travel available to more pupils would obviously add to that bill considerably at a time when the overall Welsh Government budget has faced cuts of £1.2 billion.

“We see school transport as fundamental to our plans to bring buses back under public control, linking school transport and scheduled services and supporting investment in modern buses that are accessible for all.

“By working together, we believe that we can foster a socially, environmentally and sustainable culture of responsible travel to school.”

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