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
Current Network / Pre Covid-Network
- Strengths /
- Short/ Mid/
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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:
- The acute
and numerous pressures and challenges the transport industry as a whole is
experiencing which is exacerbated locally.
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.
- 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.
- The approach
being adopted with a view of delivering services within the budget