Welsh local government wants greater clarity on future transport roles, amid concerns that Transport for Wales (TfW) could take responsibilities away from unitary authorities.
TfW has been given an annual budget for 2019-20 of £171m - a very large settlement by Welsh transport standards - and its current six-monthly remit letter requires it to establish its capability 'with consideration for any potential future remit'.
TfW is a Welsh Government company and was initially focused on procuring the Wales and Borders train operator. It now has an active travel lead and is modelling a proposed revision of Cardiff’s bus network.
Last year the Government said it would give TfW a five-year indicative budget and TfW’s role might include buses and capital schemes for roads and active travel.
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said there had been some good recent examples of TfW taking a 'co-productive approach,' which should be extended across Wales but contrasted TfW’s five-year funding with local authorities’ one-year funding.
'It raises the question as to why it is possible to do this for TfW but not for local authorities? Does it mean that, in any future cuts, TfW’s budgets would be protected while the local authorities would bear the brunt?'
The rise of TfW follows a number of reorganisations in Welsh transport in recent years, which have provoked a good deal of frustration in the devolved nation.
The WLGA highlighted that access to TfW’s central resources could help local authorities overcome the loss of expertise, which followed the Welsh Government’s abolition of Regional Transport Consortiums in 2014.
However, it warned: 'Business cases proposing the transfer of functions from local authorities to TfW would be unacceptable if they depend on additional resources being found after transfer to enable TfW to do effectively the same thing.'
Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority argued five-year funding would enable local government to invest in core teams to deliver long-term programmes, develop the supply chain and avoid the 'hiatus of work' each spring.
Regarding TfW’s future role, it said: 'Clear roles and responsibilities need to be established for each party to eliminate duplication and to focus actions by any party on the area that can be most effectively delivered by that party.'
The Growing Mid Wales partnership said the future model for transport delivery should be co-produced between local authorities, regions and TfW, and 'not imposed on us'.