The failure of the Welsh Government to provide adequate support for bus operators and bus services during the Coronavirus pandemic has been highlighted by the Member of the Welsh Parliament for Montgomeryshire, Russell George.
Russell George MS called on the Welsh Government to urgently review and increase the support available to bus operators to enable them to increase the frequency and capacity of bus services for the people of Mid Wales.
The debate in the Senedd today (8th July 2020) comes at a time when bus service 72 which operated throughout the Llanfyllin and Llansantffraid areas was recently cancelled.
Speaking after the debate, Mr George said:
"I know that the loss of bus service 72 which operated in the Llanfyllin and Llansantffraid area will be of particular concern to many residents in North Powys.
"While the operator does not want to suspend this route, it is in a difficult position and can no longer sustain the financial loss which this route is making without public subsidy.
“I will continue to work with County Councillors, Gwynfor Thomas and Peter Lewis, and the local community councils in an attempt to find a solution.
"The Welsh Government says that buses have a key role to connect communities, reduce emissions and support economic activity but we must now move beyond just empty rhetoric and drive support for the Mid Wales' bus sector.
"For some time, I have called on the Welsh Government to boost the support available to bus operators to enable them to increase the frequency, sustainability and capacity of bus services for the people of Wales.
“As I pointed out when I spoke in the debate in our Welsh Parliament (this week) Wales is the only part of the UK not yet to allocate additional funding for the industry.
"It would be foolish to not recognise the fact that Covid-19 has changed the whole outlook for the bus industry. Moving forward, it is imperative that plans are brought forward by the Welsh Government which involve constructive partnerships with local authorities, operators and passengers to ensure they deliver and promote the successful integrated bus network in Wales which we all hope to see.
“During the debate I called for an urgent task force to re-think, re-shape, and re-start support for the bus industry.”