The Welsh Government is to provide £84.6m in additional funding to help bus companies meet the challenges of coronavirus and run more services.
A decrease in the number of people travelling, and the necessity of social distancing measures being in place, has left bus companies have been short of revenues in recent months.
To keep the industry running the Welsh Government has provided a range of funding. Initially the money was to support essential journeys, before supporting the ramping up of services as schools and the wider economy began to reopen.
In August £10m was confirmed to help transport more people to school, college and work. The new funding announcement brings total support for the bus sector in Wales to £140m.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “We want bus services to be meeting the needs of passengers, even in these challenging times. Our continued funding demonstrates our commitment to getting as many services as possible running in a safe way.
“The funding will provide some longer-term stability, and given ongoing uncertainties we’ll continue to work closely with local authorities and bus operators to deliver services.
“Buses play a vital role in connecting communities and helping people access shops, education, work and leisure. We remain committed to providing the necessary support to ensure efficient services in the short, medium and long-term."
The new funding is also intended to be a step away from emergency funding and towards longer-term planning and an integrated system.
A new agreement – the Bus Emergency Scheme – was recently created to manage funding to the industry. The scheme brings together Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, local authorities and bus operators to reshape Wales’ bus network and ensure funding puts the needs of passengers first.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Trefnydd said: “We understand the profound impact the pandemic has had on bus services in Wales. The funding we are announcing today will help to safeguard the future of bus services in Wales and ensure that we continue to have a viable public transport network when this crisis comes to an end.”
The move has been welcomed by John Pockett, Director of CPT Cymru, the body representing bus operators in Wales, who said: “Working with our partners in the Welsh Government and local authorities, bus operators want to increase services for passengers as activities and the economy start to resume, and this financial support is a great boost in that aim for the coming months. It shows the recognition by the Government of the importance of bus services to local communities and to the Welsh economy.”
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