A bus equivalent to the Active Travel (Wales) Act would compel local authorities to safeguard and improve services, Welsh Assembly Members will be told on Thursday.
The Active Travel Act is the world’s first legislation requiring all local authorities to map and progressively implement aspirational networks of walking and cycling routes. It applies to built-up areas with more than 2,000 residents.
The Regional Transport Forum for South West Wales, representing local authorities, will tell an Assembly committee that comparable legislation for buses would recognise the economic, social and environmental benefits of using public transport and ‘set out a clear way ahead’.
Legislation could specify the level and types of services for built-up areas and ‘require local authorities to provide minimum standards of bus or community transport access and seek to improve that over time’ it is suggested.
The forum also urges the Welsh Government to ‘stop focusing on the need to control bus operations through increasing regulation’ and to recognise the improvements that can be achieved through partnership between public and private sectors if there is sustained commitment and investment.
However Stephen Joseph, the Campaign for Better Transport’s executive director, told Transport Network the idea was interesting but would be easier to implement with bus franchising. It would also need substantial funding for service subsidies.
‘The Swiss have different service levels for different communities,’ he said. ‘We’ve been trying to get a line like that into the Buses Bill. There’s still an option for a bus strategy, like the walking and cycling strategy.’