Concessionary fare reductions in Wales begin to bite

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Cardiff bus announced reductions in several services, which it said were no longer sustainable
Cardiff bus announced reductions in several services, which it said were no longer sustainable

The effects of last week’s £24m Welsh Government decision to slash the concessionary fares reimbursement by over 11% is already beginning to be felt – with Cardiff Bus rationalising its network and Bus Users Cymru (BUC) warning of service withdrawals and frequency reductions across the board.

Describing it “a worrying time for bus users,” BUC Senior Officer Margaret Everson said: “Busy services in towns and cities will be reduced from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes, or 20-minute services reduced to half-hourly. In more rural areas and smaller towns, services that are currently hourly could be reduced to a few services a day and many rural lifelines could be lost altogether.

“Around 109 million bus journeys were made in Wales last year compared with just 28 million rail journeys. Yet despite the fact that far more people in Wales take the bus, government funding for the railways is actually increasing yearon- year.”

BUC is also concerned that local authorities are cutting support for local bus services with minimal consultation and without undertaking an impact assessment.

“Cuts in bus services result in community isolation, increased transport poverty and impact on future generations,” added Margaret. “What good is a green agenda and encouraging use of public transport when the bus will be less attractive?”

Meanwhile, Cardiff Bus has announced reductions to several services across its network and has increased its fares for the first time in two years as a result of the Welsh Government cuts.

From April 20, the operator is having to reduce the frequency of several of its early morning, late evening and weekend services and a select number of services are also being withdrawn.

Cardiff Bus Managing Director Cynthia Ogbonna, said: “The result of the latest cut in funding is that some of our routes will not cover their running costs, which means that these services are not sustainable.

“We have been careful to ensure the impact on users is minimal and tried, where possible, to ensure that no area of the city is without a bus service within a reasonable distance. Most of the reduction in frequency relates to early and late services, especially at weekends where travel habits have evolved.”

The decision to reduce services comes after Cardiff Bus confirmed it is in consultation with union partners regarding job losses because of the impact Welsh Government cuts are having on the organisation.

Cynthia continued: “We have introduced cost cutting measures across the whole organisation, which includes job cuts. Withdrawal of services and reducing frequencies are taken as a last resort.

“These are unfortunate but necessary measures to safeguard the long-term viability of the company and the comprehensive network of services we offer.”

Under the revised fare structure, a single journey in the ‘Cardiff to Go’ area will rise by 10p, while day tickets will increase by 10p if purchased via the iff app and by 20p if purchased on the bus. In the ‘Cardiff to Go Plus’ area, singles will go up by 10p and day tickets will increase by 30p if purchased on the bus or 20p if bought via the iff app.

Cardiff Bus has explained the changes comprehensively and commendably, in a straightforward manner on a dedicated webpage at http:// tinyurl.com/odw7a42 or visit www.cardiffbus.com