Welsh Government secures bus services in North and West Wales
Oct 16, 2013 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) --
The Welsh Government is stepping in to secure the short term future of a number of bus services in North and West Wales following the announcement that Arriva Buses Wales proposes to cut some rural routes.
In a statement to Assembly members today Transport Minister Edwina Hart said the majority of the services are currently scheduled to end in December and discussions are ongoing with local authorities to award contracts under emergency procedures, to local operators, whilst longer term solutions are explored for a sustainable network of services.
The Minister said: "Funding for the X94 service from Wrexham and Barmouth, which forms part of the TrawsCymru Network, will be provided by top slicing Regional Transport Services Grant. We are continuing our discussions with the local authorities about the funding mechanisms for the remaining services."
She added that local authorities have powers to subsidise services that they consider to be socially-necessary, using their own budgets as well as the Welsh Government's Regional Transport Services Grant funding.
The Welsh Government has allocated GBP25 million this year to Wales's four Regional Transport Consortia through the Regional Transport Services Grant to help boost the number and range of subsidised, socially-necessary bus and community transport services.
The Minister emphasised that Welsh Government funding and support of bus services and community transport schemes are likely to continue to come under considerable pressure.
She acknowledged there is an enormous challenge in some areas, especially among rural communities, because some services will need to rely on subsidy to run.
The Minister commented: " Given the difficult position that we find ourselves in, in terms of our limited resources and the bus network's need to attract more fare-paying passengers, we need to be more imaginative and look for innovative solutions to our public transport provision in Wales.
"We also need to look at all the issues around the help and assistance that we give to bus services in Wales and how we can better deliver regional transport."
Mrs Hart said the message she has had from businesses and local authorities is that the Regional Transport Consortia have not been as effective at driving delivery at regional level as was hoped.
In recognition of this the Minister has asked her officials to examine the options for how regional delivery of transport can be improved. The Minister concluded: "Given the difficult financial circumstances in which we find ourselves, we need to ensure we are looking at all our funding mechanisms to maximise value for money and secure the best possible outcome for the provision of public transport. A sustainable bus network depends on increasing the number of fare-paying passengers. "As a government we are committed to enhancing the transport system in Wales, to demonstrate we are open for business, provide employment opportunities, stimulate the economy and reduce poverty."
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