Welsh Government announces bus reform proposals

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Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has revealed the Government’s legislative programme, which includes a new law to reform the nation’s bus services.

As part of a raft of measures designed to create a ‘more equal Wales,’ the public transport bill will change how local bus services are planned and delivered.

Under the proposals, councils would be allowed to run (or franchise) services to reintroduce routes that have been cut having been deemed commercially unviable.

The bill will “seek to reverse some of the negative impacts of de-regulation by enabling local authorities to franchise or run bus services directly,” according to the Government’s announcement.
Should the proposals become a reality, the Welsh Government says they will lay the foundations for an ‘integrated transport network,’ with bus services becoming more closely linked to other modes – particularly trains.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh Government I lead has a firm commitment to creating a more equal, fair and just society in Wales.

“This final chapter of our legislative programme will help us tackle inequality, promote collaboration in the delivery of public services and deliver significant improvements to our education system.

“This is a legislative programme which delivers progressive, positive change for the people of Wales.”

Bus Users UK has tentatively welcomed the announcement, with its Director for Wales, Barclay Davies, commenting: “While the focus on the importance of bus services is to be welcomed, there is a lack of detail as to how the proposals will be funded in the longer term.”

According to the organisation, funding cuts have already seen communities across Wales ‘devastated’ by the withdrawal of bus services.

“Passengers are really not concerned with how their services are delivered,” continued Barclay.

“What they want is an easy to understand network, simplified fares and ticketing, and better service frequencies to reflect changing work and lifestyle patterns.”