Welsh bus services to receive further £84.6m to meet challenges of COVID-19
The funding will bring much needed support to the Welsh bus industry as it battles the long-term effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Passengers across Wales will benefit from an additional £84.6m of Welsh Government funding for the bus industry, which will help companies meet the challenges of coronavirus and run more services.
The funding takes total support for bus services this financial year to £140m.
With a drop in the number of people travelling, and the necessity of social distancing measures being in place, bus companies have been short of revenues in recent months. To keep the industry running the Welsh Government has stepped in to provide funding, initially to support essential journeys, before an increase of services as schools and the wider economy began to reopen.
In August, £10 million was confirmed to help transport more people to school, college and work. This latest funding announcement is the largest of its type and brings total support to £140 million.
The funding is also 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. The scheme brings together Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, local authorities and bus operators to reshape Wales’ bus network and ensure funding puts the needs of passengers first.
“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,” commented Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport.
“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 CPT Cymru, the body representing bus operators in Wales, 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. 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.”