Wales-wide ‘smart-ticketing’ system needed by 2018, says National Assembly committee
A Wales-wide smart-ticketing system, similar to that in place in London, a traffic commissioner for Wales, and a new strategy for Community Transport are needed to develop public transport services in Wales, according to a National Assembly committee.
The Enterprise and Business Committee has been looking at bus and community transport across the country and found that falling subsidies, falling passenger numbers and reductions in bus services across Wales are having a severe impact, particularly in rural areas.
It is concerned that people, particularly the most vulnerable, can be left feeling isolated.
The Committee was told of bus initiatives in areas including Essex, Cornwall, Nottingham and the North East which could offer valuable lessons for Wales.
Made-in-Wales initiatives like Bwcabus and Traws Cymru also show what can be done with a marketing budget, investment in vehicles, and better passenger information.
Community Transport, the Committee concluded, has a powerful role to play, but those planning transport networks need greater clarity about what that role should be. There is also a need to ensure the regulations are enabling it to deliver, and reimbursement rates allow it to run without making a loss.
"Buses are the most widely used form of public transport in Wales, yet the industry is facing an uncertain future," said William Graham AM, Chair of the Enterprise and Business Committee.
"There are a range of policy issues which undermine the Welsh bus industry. The need for a dedicated Wales-only Traffic Commissioner based in Wales and accountable to the Welsh Government and National Assembly is widely acknowledged, but not delivered. Planned devolution of bus registration powers cannot come quickly enough."
"We need ambition – which is why we recommend setting a 2018 deadline for a Wales-wide integrated ticket system, of the kind that is already available in London where the use of contactless payment through bank cards and smartphones is commonplace. It is technologically possible and passengers want it. The incoming transport minister will need to drive this initiative from day one."
The Committee makes 12 recommendations in its report, including:
- Welsh Government should set a deadline of 2018 (to coincide with the introduction of the rail franchise) for implementation of an all-Wales integrated ticketing system to be used on all commercial bus, rail and Metro services.
- Wales should, as a matter of urgency, have its own dedicated Traffic Commissioner, based in Wales and accountable to Welsh Ministers and the National Assembly for Wales.
- The Welsh Government should develop a Community Transport Strategy in consultation with the sector to clarify its role in an integrated network and work with local authorities to promote understanding of community transport and what it can and cannot do.
Report - Bus and Community Transport Services in Wales (PDF 713KB)