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08 Apr 2014
Welsh Government bus investment cuts have led to the planned closure of a bus depot and a number of proposed service reductions, Stagecoach in South Wales said today (Tuesday 8 April 2014).
The Welsh Government last year slashed bus service support by 25%, leaving those who rely on the bus at risk of losing vital services and seeing fares rise. In addition, due to budget reductions, there has been a significant reduction in bus service investment by local authorities in South Wales.
Last month, the Transport Minister announced plans to make a £24million cut to the country’s concessionary travel scheme which operators have warned will have a further devastating impact on bus passengers and bus workers. Stagecoach has made clear that it is likely to mount a legal challenge against the plans unless ministers reverse the decision.
As a result of the cuts, Wales’ biggest bus operator Stagecoach has been forced to announce plans to close its Brynmawr depot from July this year. The company is currently consulting with trade union representatives over the potential impact on jobs.
In addition, Stagecoach has been left with no choice but to make a number of service reductions across its network, from 20 July 2014, including in Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
John Gould, Managing Director of Stagecoach in South Wales, said: “We have warned the Welsh Government for months that these misguided cuts would impact severely on people who rely on the bus and on bus workers. They have not listened and now sadly local people will feel the effects of their decisions.
“Ministers’ actions are now directly responsible for potential job losses and placing entire areas at risk of being cut off from bus services. We will keep fighting for the rights of bus passengers in Wales but sadly it is impossible to continue delivering the same level of services for passengers when we are seeing cut after cut in investment in local bus services. The result is that some of our routes are not sustainable and we have to act in order to ensure we can continue to deliver services for customers across the rest of our network over the long-term.
Stagecoach’s announcement comes just months after both Arriva Buses Wales and Cardiff Bus announced service reductions as well as the closure of Arriva’s Aberystwyth depot.
John Gould added: “In the current economic climate, the Welsh Government should be supporting public transport which many people use to access jobs, education, health and leisure facilities. Instead, they have pulled the rug out from underneath the feet of passengers and bus employees.
“We remain fully committed to providing high-quality bus services in South Wales. The measures we have announced are an absolute last resort and it is with deep regret that we have had to take these decisions. We will now consult with staff and trade unions, looking at every option available to minimise the number of employees affected by this.”