Further subsidised bus travel schemes agreed for RCT
Written by Gavin on 19th July 2023
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet has agreed proposals to introduce subsidised bus travel schemes across Rhondda Cynon Taf during key periods of the 2023/24 financial year.
A £1 maximum single bus fare for all travel between July 24 and September 3 (inclusive) has been agreed and, depending on the success of this scheme, a repeat of this subsidy could be implemented between December 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023 (inclusive).
In addition, RCT Council’s Cabinet also approved the introduction of a 1-year 7-day bus travel pilot scheme for all post-16 school and college students that are in receipt of a public bus season ticket to attend school or college between Monday, September 4, and the end of the respective 2023/24 academic year.
Earlier this year, the Council’s Cabinet Members agreed to allocate approximately £500,000 of funding obtained from the Shared Prosperity Fund toward a trial scheme that saw free bus travel for all journeys within RCT during the month of March.
A review of the results of the scheme demonstrated an average increase of patronage of 35% across all services and operators from February 2023 numbers. It was also noted that all operators reported a significant increase in youth travel across the County over the trial period. The subsequent April 2023 data showed that bus travel had maintained a 7% increase, highlighting that there is a desire for the public to take advantage of an affordable and reliable bus service offer.
Following on from the success of the free travel pilot scheme, the Cabinet has now agreed to allocate up-to a further £985,000 (approximately) of Shared Prosperity Fund grant money to progress the specific schemes – further details of which are detailed below.
£1 Maximum Single Bus Fare Scheme
Following Cabinet’s decision, a £1 maximum single bus fare for all travel on journeys that start and terminate within the RCT County boundary will be in place between Monday, July 24, and Sunday, September 3, 2023 (inclusive). There would be no time restrictions applied, so reduced fare travel would be available from the first to last service each day on all scheduled bus services (regardless of operator). Services that start or terminate outside of the County Boundary will be excluded and subject to the full regular fare.
Subject to the outcomes of the School Summer Holidays scheme, a repeat of the scheme could be introduced for the month of December (Dec 1 to Dec 31 inclusive) to help support the Shop Local at our town centres.
7-Day Bus Travel for School/College Students
Cabinet Members also agreed to introduce a 1-year, 7-days-a-week bus travel pilot scheme for all post-16 school and college students that will be in receipt of a public bus season ticket to attend school or college between Monday, September 4, and the end of the respective academic year 2023/24, in accordance with the Council’s School Transport Policy and the terms of the SPF Grant funding.
For this scheme, free transport will not be transferrable across various operators, and students will only be able to travel on routes operated by the bus company that the individual student is allocated to for their daily school or college commute.
Students will have free travel on all scheduled bus services that start or terminate within RCT by their respective operator. Services that start or terminate outside the County boundary would be excluded and subject to the full regular fare. There would be no time or day restrictions applied, so free travel with their respective travel operator would be available from the first to last service each day. This proposal is not available to students that are transported to school or college by any other means than through a Council-provided public bus season ticket.
Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Investment, said:
“I’m pleased that Cabinet has agreed to implement further measures to promote subsidised bus travel across Rhondda Cynon Taf.
“The measures agreed will once again provide vital support to residents with the effects of the cost of living crisis, and will be fundamental in helping residents and families to save money – potentially hundreds of pounds on bus transport over the summer holiday period.
“In addition, the schemes support key transport and climate strategies both locally and nationally, including the Wales Transport Strategy 2021 and the Council’s own ambitions for RCT to be carbon neutral by 2030, amongst others, as we seek to protect the environment in response to climate change.
“Much has been made about the difficulties facing the bus service industry over recent months, particularly as the effects of the pandemic have been made clear; and it is vital that, where possible, we are able to support a public transport system that is reliable, affordable and easy to use, as a means of encouraging a long-term modal shift from private car travel to sustainable lower-carbon public transport options.
“A key part of these initiatives will be to provide support to post-16 students, and it is anticipated that by encouraging post-16 age students to use bus travel for a wider range of journeys outside of school times, they will be more likely to continue to use public transport when they leave school and do not automatically purchase a private car.
“Pending the outcomes of the subsidised £1 maximum single bus fare scheme over the summer holiday period and available funding, we will look to bring forward a second round of this scheme over the month of December, with further options considered for the 2024/25 once future SPF Grant funding allocations are received.”