Welsh Assembly members have called on the devolved administration to produce a 'bus action plan' to address how the sector is suffering through increasing traffic congestion.
The Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee said a stronger political will is needed to solve the problems facing bus services in Wales and encourage more people to leave their cars at home.
It was told that buses in the country are caught in a vicious circle where more cars result in more congestion, impacting timetables, raising costs and making people less likely to use buses.
In a new report, the committee says buses could ease congestion, reduce air pollution and improve health standards, if prioritised and planned properly by the Welsh Government and local authorities.
Committee chair Russell George AM said: ‘The bus carries more passengers than any other form of public transport and is an indispensable tool for workers, learners, shoppers and leisure travellers in their daily lives.
‘At its heart, this is an issue that requires stronger political will. Broadly speaking, the powers, levers, and legislation are in place.
‘What we need now is a Welsh Government action plan which pulls together what works, and encourages local authorities to adopt and adapt good practice.’
In its report, the Committee says that the Welsh Government should urgently develop and publish an action plan to set out how it will tackle the impacts of traffic congestion on the bus industry in Wales.
This should include:
- recognition of the scale and extent of the impacts of congestion on the bus industry in Wales, and a firm commitment to tackling the issue
- how Welsh Government will support local authorities to work in partnership with bus operators to develop and implement bus priority measures, including changes to funding to ensure long term, sustainable solutions
- assessment of the full range of tools available and how useful they might be in tackling congestion’s impact on Welsh bus services, including the implementation of park and ride schemes, congestion charging, enhanced parking charges, workplace parking levies, and bus priority measures
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said it welcomed the report and would respond 'in due course'.
He said: 'The economy and infrastructure secretary recognised in Committee that congestion is a significant challenge and if left unchecked will impact both the bus industry itself and our ambition of making bus travel more attractive to passengers.
'We have already put in place a range of measures to help tackle congestion and to help improve the punctuality of bus services, for example, to enable local authorities to adopt powers to tackle parking, bus lane and moving traffic contraventions.'