The Welsh Government as outlined the Voluntary Welsh Bus Quality Standard following a consultation launched in January.
The standard aims to ensure that local bus services are consistent in quality and availability throughout Wales, while encouraging bus operators to improve the service provided to passengers.
In order to meet the quality standard, bus operators will need to meet a number of expectations by March 31, 2017. These include:
- Participating in the Young Persons’ Discounted Fare Scheme, which means reducing fares by a third for 16 to 18-year olds;
- Operate vehicles which comply with PSV Accessibility Regulations 2000 and any associated legislation;
- Ensure vehicles have clear visible and working destination blinds;
- Buses are cleaned inside and out ready for the first service of the day;
- The provision of uniform for drivers and other onboard employees; and
- Have a published passenger complaints policy.
In addition to this, operators running 50 or more buses will be expected to install Audio-Visual (AV) information systems on all vehicles acquired from 2015 onwards. This requirement was welcomed by Guide Dogs Cymru.
Andrea Gordon, Engagement Manager for Guide Dogs Cymru, said: “AV announcements on buses are essential if people with sight loss are to travel safely and confidently.
“Having no idea where you are on your journey and, even worse, the risk of getting off at the wrong destination, in a totally unfamiliar area, is frightening. We are also delighted that this will improve the experience of visitors to Wales.
“Big bus companies such as First Cymru will have to feature on-board AV if they wish to access the Bus Services Support Grant from local authorities in Wales. Arriva Buses Wales has already equipped much of its fleet with AV, and we know from our feedback that these have improved the experience of bus travel for passengers, including elderly people, commuters and tourists.
“Newport Transport has also made good progress with on-board AV, as has Cardiff Bus, which even featured announcements by actress Ruth Jones and singer Cerys Matthews.”
Full details of the quality standard can be found at http://tinyurl.com/h5mv5ve