Welsh bus legislation running out of time


The Welsh Government has admitted its long-awaited bus legislation may fall, with the next Welsh Parliament elections due on 6 May 2021.

Having consulted on the proposals in spring 2017, the Government did not introduce the Bus Services (Wales) Bill to Parliament until 16 March.

Transport minister Ken Skates cancelled his planned statement in parliament on the Bill because coronavirus hijacked the agenda on the same day.

The Bill features franchising and other tools similar to those in England’s reforms of 2017 and Scotland’s of 2019.

Quizzed by a committee last week on coronavirus’ financial impacts, Mr Skates said his team was developing policy on long-term funding for public transport.

Simon Jones, the Government’s director of economic infrastructure, said there was limited parliamentary time for the new funding policy and Buses Bill, which ‘was clearly a significant part of what this would look like’.

He continued: ‘We're looking as well as at the buses Bill at contingencies should we not be able to get that through because of limited time.’

Transport Network asked the Government what sort of contingencies in place of the Bill are being explored, and whether the government was considering urging local authorities to utilise their existing bus partnership powers under the 2008 Local Government Act.

A spokesman replied: ‘Future travel demand over the short and long term will be very different and will continue to remain uncertain for some time. We are considering all the policy, funding and legislative levers we have to maintain sustainable and attractive bus services.’

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