Emergency bus funding to continue

Emergency financial support will continue for bus operators in Bridgend county borough who have been affected by coronavirus restrictions.

At a meeting on Tuesday 19 January, Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet heard a report about the second phase of Welsh Government’s Bus Emergency Scheme, which aims to support the sector through the pandemic and also sets out the intention for further discussion about the long-term future of networks.

Since the start of the pandemic, Welsh Government and local authorities have stepped in to support the sector with substantial financial assistance.

Funding has been assembled from monies that would otherwise have been paid via Bus Services Support Grant, mandatory concessionary fare reimbursement and the My Travel Pass scheme.

Between April and December last year, more than £3m of funding was paid to bus operators for services in Bridgend.

Councillor Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “Bus travel has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Passenger numbers have plummeted, whilst social distancing and additional cleansing requirements have placed added burdens and costs on operators.

“Local authorities and Welsh Government have been working with operators to make bus services available in spite of the significant reduction in passenger numbers and associated fare income.

“Thanks to bus operators and workers who have kept vital bus routes running to get key workers to work even while facing financial losses. This funding will ensure companies are able to continue to run services during the pandemic and beyond.”

Under the terms of the agreement, operators in Bridgend county borough will be required to continue to provide bus services that meet local needs. The contract runs until 31 July 2022 but may be terminated earlier if market conditions mean additional funding is no longer required to address the impact of Covid-19.

Cabinet agreed to the principles of the agreement and will receive a further report on bus reform proposals for Wales in due course.