Stronger political will needed to improve ‘Cinderella’ bus services
A stronger political will is needed to solve the problems facing bus services in Wales and encourage more people to leave their cars at home, according to a new report from a National Assembly committee.
Despite carrying more passengers than any other mode of public transport the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee was told that buses are the 'Cinderella service' caught in a vicious circle which sees more cars result in more congestion, impacting timetables, raising costs and making people less likely to use them.
Prioritised and planned properly by the Welsh Government and local authorities, buses could ease congestion, reduce air pollution and improve health standards.
"The bus is often overlooked when we talk about our transport network. Yet the bus carries more passengers than any other form of public transport, and is an indispensable tool for workers, learners, shoppers and leisure travellers in their daily lives," said Russell George AM, Chair of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee.
"At its heart, this is an issue that requires stronger political will. Broadly speaking, the powers, levers, and legislation are in place.
"What we need now is a Welsh Government action plan which pulls together what works, and encourages local authorities to adopt and adapt good practice."
The Committee calls on the Welsh Government to publish an action plan setting out how it will tackle the impact of traffic congestion on bus services in Wales. The Committee wants the plan to include:
Recognition of the scale and extent of the impacts of congestion on the bus industry in Wales, and a firm commitment to tackling the issue;
How Welsh Government will support local authorities to work in partnership with bus operators to develop and implement bus priority measures, including changes to funding to ensure long term, sustainable solutions; and
Assessment of the full range of tools available and how useful they might be in tackling congestion's impact on Welsh bus services, including: implementation of park and ride schemes, congestion charging, enhanced parking charges, workplace parking levies, and bus priority measures.