The Welsh Government has announced a further £84.6m for the country’s bus industry, which it said will help companies ‘meet the challenges of coronavirus and run more services’.
Officials said this takes total support for bus services this financial year to £140m. Initially the cash was said to be to support essential journeys as passenger revenue fell, before supporting the ramp up of services as schools and the wider economy began to reopen.
Lee Waters (pictured), 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.’
John Pockett, director of industry body CPT Cymru, said: ‘This further government funding is very welcome to the bus industry, which has faced a catastrophic decline in passenger numbers and revenues as a result of this awful pandemic.
‘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.’
Officials described the cash as another step 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, bringing together the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, local authorities and bus operators to reshape Wales’ bus network.