Agenda item

Ceredigion Bus Network


Councillor Keith Henson explained that WG managed a large proportion of the transport system in Wales and at present, the transport industry faced a challenging time. An overview of the contents of the report was provided including the local and wider context.


Gerwyn Jones, Corporate Manager: Environmental Services stated that the report was presented to Cabinet on 14 February 2023. A presentation was provided to the Committee outlining the following:

  • Background
  • Ceredigion’s Current Network / Pre Covid-Network
  • Strengths / Weaknesses
  • Opportunities / Threats
  • Short/ Mid/ Long Term
  • Ceredigion’s Future Network?
  • Considerations
  • TrawsCymru/ BwcaBus Branding
  • Transport Information
  • ULEV Transition


Professor Stuart Cole CBE noted that the situation was similar in many places, and although the solution was different for each local authority, it was similar for rural areas such as Ceredigion and neighbouring authorities. It was reported that Covid-19 had a significant impact on the number of people travelling on public transport, including the TrawsCymru. Following the introduction of BwcaBus in 2008, research had been undertaken on public transport in rural areas, and as a result, TrawsCymru was introduced in 2012, with BwcaBus and local buses feeding into the network. 2.6million passengers had travelled on TrawsCymru in 2019, which was a significant increase from numbers prior to 2012, however, passengers had not yet returned to pre-covid numbers, including the T1 route (Carmarthen- Aberystwyth) which had only returned to 60%. The reliability, frequency and precept of services were deemed key to attracting more passengers, along with accessibility, such as information signs and timetables.


It was reported that although Lee Waters MS, Deputy minister for Climate Change was eager for more people to travel on public transport, there were very clear differences in the availability of services in urban and rural areas. The subsidy for transporting Concessionary Travel Card holders was very small compared to the price of a ticket, but hopefully, WG would not end this arrangement.


Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions which were answered by Officers, Professor Stuart Cole CBE and Councillor Keith Henson. The main points raised were as follows:

  • A procurement process would commence shortly for the routes Ceredigion County Council held responsibility for, with the aim of new contracts being in place by September 2023. Officers warned that the situation would possibly worsen again before any improvements were seen and that there was a challenging time ahead.
  • It was noted that the Megabus service which had run from Aberystwyth to London prior to Covid-19 was run by Stagecoach, a commercial company and so there was no requirement on the company to restore the service post Covid-19. Commercial companies ran services based on whether routes made a profit but if there was a demand for the service, it may be worth discussing with the company.
  • Concerns were raised with the changes to the 585 service (Aberystwyth- Tregaron- Lampeter) given that the two buses removed from the timetable were suitable for the elderly who depended on the service. Officers explained that although the service was not ideal, had it not been for discussions with the operator of this route, there would currently be no service in place.
  • Public transport should be accessible for all, and it was important to ensure the disabled and elderly could access buses without any difficulty.
  • Despite WG’s vision of increasing the use of public transport, concerns were raised about the lack of funding to achieve this, especially in rural areas, therefore this needed to be raised with WG.
  • At present, local authorities undertook the commissioning work for TrawsCymru, but Transport for Wales (TfW) would gradually take on this role. The level of service would depend on WG funding.
  • Discussions around ULEV/ hydrogen were ongoing, and consideration was given to the role of electricity and the grid’s lack of capacity. Last week, 8 electric buses operated on the T1 TrawsCymru route (Aberystwyth-Carmarthen) with charging facilities located in Carmarthen. Aberystwyth had been identified as a hub by TrawsCymru, and so WG and TfW were exploring options for the future. Although no date had been set by TfW to convert their fleet to ULEV, it was vital to ensure the correct infrastructure was in place. In addition, work was ongoing to hopefully create a transport interchange at Synod Inn, which will possibly include an option to charge vehicles.
  • It was highlighted that the environmental argument for using public transport could diminish if all cars were converted to electric or hydrogen. Given this, it was noted that the overall aim environmentally was to reduce the need to travel, which had reduced significantly with Covid-19.
  • A motion to discuss Ceredigion’s bus network had been put forward for Full Council on 20 April 2023.


Councillor Keith Henson extended his thanks to the Officers present for their work and stated that there were clearly many challenges within the county and further afield. Thanks were also extended to Professor Stuart Cole CBE for his input from a National perspective. Funding and a shift in the public’s view to understanding the benefits of travelling on Public Transport regionally was vital but being able to travel locally was also very important. Feedback had been positive since the launch of the T1 TrawsCymru electric buses last week, and in moving forward, WG needed to have discussions with suppliers due to the long order lead times of vehicles.  In addition, concerns regarding the grid’s capacity were being raised with National Grid and WG, and very recently, the Significant Code Review had come into force.


The Chair also extended his thanks to all involved and explained that the meeting had been beneficial to gain an understanding of the full picture.


Following questions by the Committee Members, it was agreed to note:

  1. The acute and numerous pressures and challenges the transport industry as a whole is experiencing which is exacerbated locally.
  2. The subsequent pressure arising on the Council and the Service in seeking to manage the situation, which includes stakeholder expectations and the timelines associated with decisions and actions being implemented.
  3. The action taken by the Service to manage the situation and reduce what will still be a significant in-year over-spend in 2022/23.
  4. The approach being adopted with a view of delivering services within the budget allocation.

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