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The transport network underpins our daily lives, connecting people and communities to jobs, health services, educational opportunities and leisure activities. A modern public transport system should be accessible, affordable and integrated, providing choice and opportunity as a viable alternative to the private motor car.

Bws Cymru sets out the Welsh Government’s plans to reform the planning and delivery of local bus services over the next 5 years.

The Welsh Government’s ambition, expressed in Llwybr Newydd: the Wales Transport Strategy 2021, is to provide a joined up public transport network that is safe, reliable, punctual, environmentally sustainable, accessible and responds to meet the needs of the travelling public. Bus services need to meet the specific needs of each locality and, by stimulating patronage, connect more people to reduce reliance on private cars.

Bus services across Wales provide important access to education, training, work, healthcare, social activities and the opportunity to simply enjoy a day out and about. They are an essential part of the community and social interaction; and support improved health and activity by being part of the network of more sustainable and healthy modes of transport (walking, cycling and public transport).

Bus services provide that vital link between our communities and are an important tool in ensuring a vibrant economy. They support the tourism industry by providing access to many attractions across the country.

Transport is integral in achieving the objectives set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (“the 2015 Act”) and can help by connecting people to jobs, healthcare and by helping to address air quality and climate change issues. Bws Cymru will play an important part in supporting the general principle of the 2015 Act, which is about making positive interventions now in order to benefit people living their lives in Wales in the future. Bws Cymru will contribute to each of the 2015 Act’s seven goals and Bws Cymru has been developed, and continues to be developed, in accordance with the five ways of working, with a focus on the long term, prevention, integration, collaboration and involvement.

Whilst passenger numbers are recovering, they are likely to remain below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels for the near future particularly around public safety messaging around the virus and the public’s appetite to travel on public transport.

We want to continue the positive partnership working with our stakeholders that the pandemic has brought about to help implement the projects in Bws Cymru.

About Bws Cymru

An essential part of ensuring the aims and vision for bus in Wales are achieved is ensuring that bus services are attractive to new and existing passengers in the future and contribute to wider aims in a positive fashion.

This 5 year plan looks at all aspects of bus service provision including infrastructure, road allocation, accessibility, integration with other public transport modes, and, more widely how we can bring about change in the industry for the better.

The purpose of this report is to provide a summary of the engagement activity and responses that has informed the content of Bws Cymru. This evidence base of issues has been established over a number of years and identifies the common themes and key issues which stakeholders raised and potentially need to be addressed in the Plan. This document provides a response from the Welsh Government on the issues raised and how they have been taken into account in the drafting of the document.

When formulating Bws Cymru we have been mindful of the legal requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations (2015) Act and the need for us to think about the seven Well-being Goals in formulating our plans. These have been our core drivers when we have been considering the kind of Wales that Bus services have a key role in developing for the future as well as considering which projects can have the greatest impact.

Previous engagement

The Welsh Government seeks to regularly involve the public and stakeholders in its policy development and testing. The individuals and representative groups we have engaged with have been a valuable source of information past and present and the ideas presented help solve issues which many people face daily, including when utilising or operating bus services.

We recognise the strength of collective action and, when appreciating the perspective of others, we can work together to deliver better solutions.

Bus summit engagement

In January 2017, we held a bus summit in Wrexham, inviting over two hundred industry stakeholders to attend. During the day, industry wide issues were discussed supported by presentations and followed by interactive delegate workshops on buses parked outside the venue. Workshop discussions were around five key issues and potential solutions around sustainable and accessible bus networks; a sustainable development approach; and reversing bus passenger decline and organically growing the fare paying passenger market.

Following the summit, we held a further eight more detailed workshops across Wales to delve deeper into the common themes that emerged.

A further bus summit took place in Swansea in 2018, again involving over two hundred industry stakeholders.  Industry issues were again discussed as well as setting the future direction of local bus services in Wales which included working positively with all partners across the industry, working together to explore solutions to meet the transport needs of all our communities.

Bus Bill engagement and consultation

In March 2020, a Bill was introduced to the Senedd. In developing the proposals for the Bill, we sought a broad range of views through formal consultation written responses, engagement events and specific engagement meetings to ensure as many people as possible had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposals. Four stakeholder engagement events were held across Wales, with a total of around 200 in attendance and we attended numerous local authority meetings and engagement events to discuss the proposals. Specific engagement meetings also took place with a range of organisations and individuals sharing protected characteristics, including:

  • Disability Wales;
  • Guide Dogs Cymru;
  • Youth Parliament; and
  • Children in Wales.

Briefing sessions were also held with the following groups:

  • Future Generations Commission;
  • the Welsh Local Government Association;
  • Country Surveyors Society and the Association of Transport Coordinating Officers;
  • South West Transport Portfolio Members;
  • Transport Cabinet Members Advisory Group in North Wales;
  • NBN Bus Workstream; and
  • Community Transport Association.

The Bill was withdrawn on 15 July 2020 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the legislative timetable. Further information on the engagement and consultation which took place can be found here: Improving public transport.

Llwybr Newydd: engagement and consultation

Between March and September 2020, as we were drafting Llwybr Newydd, we organised over 50 online meetings. At those meetings we presented our emerging ideas about what the strategy should cover and asked people to tell us about their experiences of transport, and feedback on our thoughts about what should be in the strategy.

We also drew on other sources of information about people’s experiences of transport. Before we began work on Llwybr Newydd (and before the COVID-19 pandemic) we held three face-to-face workshops to gauge peoples’ perceptions of transport. We were also able to draw on consultation feedback gathered as part of previous transport consultations

We met the 5 Welsh Commissioners:

  1. Traffic Commissioner
  2. Welsh Language Commissioner
  3. Older People’s Commissioner
  4. Children’s Commissioner
  5. Future Generations Commissioner and
  6. National Infrastructure Commission.

We also spoke with the:

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Disability Equality Forum
  • Wales Race Forum
  • Refugee and Asylum Seeker Task Force
  • Strengthening and Advancing Equality and Human Rights steering group
  • Ministerial Advisory Forum on Ageing
  • Gypsy and Road Traveller representatives, and
  • Transport for Wales Accessibility Panel.

We also spoke to people with protected characteristics, as part of those meetings or in separate sessions. We also met with a wide range of other stakeholders in local authorities, in the transport sectors and in the third sector.

During the drafting process we continually revised the text of the plan to take into account feedback. In particular, we tried to reflect on transport as a social issue, and the importance of understanding people’s experiences of transport.

RH: I have changed this line:

Information on the engagement and consultation activities undertaken during the formulation of Llwybr Newydd. (This is linking to the consultation)

COVID-19 bus sector engagement

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have extensively engaged with local transport authorities and bus operators to work together to provide the right support for the industry and putting the right safety measures in place for the travelling public. We will build upon this positive engagement and continual dialogue as we move forward in to the next stage of bus sector improvements. 

This way of working throughout the pandemic has seen a significant shift in collaborative working between the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, local authorities and bus operators. The continuous engagement, particularly around the Bus Emergency Scheme to support operators, has enabled the exchange of views and issues between all parties to be forthcoming.

Bws Cymru engagement

During the development of Bws Cymru we have engaged with stakeholders through a series of 15 online meetings and workshops in addition to our regular communications with local transport authorities, bus operators and industry representative groups. These dedicated workshops for Bws Cymru have sought to bring stakeholders in to the discussion including those in protected characteristic groups who can offer a different perspective to the issues that affect them when travelling by bus.  

The Welsh Government has sought a broad range of views throughout the engagement events to ensure as many stakeholders as possible had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the Government’s proposals.

Specific engagement meetings have also taken place with a range of organisations and individuals sharing protected characteristics.

We have also established the Bus Partnership Group to act as a sounding board for policy ideas and to reflect our commitment to work collaboratively within the sector. This Group contains the representative bodies from across the bus sector. It is intended that this Group will continue to meet and discuss bus issues on a regular basis and be a discussion platform for bus reform and bus-related issues where each member can bring items for discussion and receive feedback and advice. This Group forms the foundation of wider engagement and partnership working which the Welsh Government hopes will continue throughout the life of Bws Cymru and beyond.

Bws Cymru engagement schedule

In addition to our regular meetings with bus operators and local authorities we met with the following organisations / groups to help inform the issued we considered in Bws Cymru.


Meeting / Workshop

Invited Attendees

Thursday, 26 August 2021        

Traveline Cymru Driving Comms Network

Marketing and communications colleagues from various transport organisations

Monday, 6 September 2021                

Bws Cymru - Engagement Workshop Session1

Transport Focus, Traveline Cymru

Tuesday, 7 September 2021              

Transport for Wales (TfW) Mid and West Wales Stakeholder Forum

Local Authorities, Business and Tourism Partners, Education Bodies, Regional Transport Authority Partners And Transport Watchdogs

Thursday, 9 September 2021            

TfW Sustainability Panel

Public Health Wales / Sustrans / Dotiau
Wales Co-operative Centre / Welsh Centre for International Affairs
Centre for Sustainability  / Platfform / CELSA UK
Severn Wye Energy Agency / Tymor Hir
Natural Resources Wales / Living Streets

Thursday, 9 September 2021            

TfW Wales and Borders Stakeholder Forum

Local Authorities, Business and Tourism Partners, Education Bodies, Regional Transport Authority Partners And Transport Watchdogs

Thursday, 9 September 2021            

Bus Reform Working Group

Local Authorities, Association of Transport Coordinating Officers (ATCO), Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA)

Friday, 10 September 2021                

Bws Cymru - Engagement Workshop Session 2

Age Cymru, Guide Dogs, National Federation of Women's Institutes, Disability Wales, Older Person’s Commissioner’s Office

Monday, 13 September 2021             

TfW South East Wales Stakeholder Forum

Local Authorities, Business and Tourism Partners, Education Bodies, Regional Transport Authority Partners And Transport Watchdogs

Tuesday, 14 September 2021            

TfW Advisory Panel

Federation of Small Business Network
Office of the Future Generations Commission / Sustrans Wales / Transport Focus / Community Transport Association Confederation of British Industry
Children’s Commissioner for Wales / Cytûn: Churches Together in Wales
Equality & Human Rights Commission Wales / Ethnic Minorities & Youth Support / Bevan Foundation / Stonewall Cymru / CPT Wales / Chair, Transport for Wales
TfW Accessibility and Inclusion Manager

Tuesday, 14 September 2021            

Union Workshop Session

PCS, Unison, Unite

Thursday, 16 September 2021           

TfW North Wales Stakeholder Forum

Local Authorities, Business and Tourism Partners, Education Bodies, Regional Transport Authority Partners And Transport Watchdogs

Thursday, 16 September 2021            

Bws Cymru - Engagement Workshop Session 3

Bus Users Cymru, Traveline Cymru

Tuesday 21 September 2021

RNIB / Accessibility Powys Workshops

Stakeholders with visual impairment

Thursday, 23 September 2021       

Traveline Cymru SMT

Traveline Cymru

Tuesday, 28 September 2021           

Bus Partnership Group

ATCO, PT, Cabac, TfW, Traffic Commissioner for Wales, Community Transport Association (CTA) Traveline Bus Users Cymru,  Transport in Focus

All invited attendees to the sessions were sent copies of the presentation given and offered further 1:1 engagement meetings.

The engagement sessions generated some very interesting discussions and welcomed feedback.

Respondents highlighted a number of issues during the engagement sessions and highlighted specific areas which required consideration when looking at improving public transport. People were encouraged to discuss in depth the issues they face using public transport. A range of views and comments were recorded at all sessions and the area of focus for the discussions in the meetings varied depending on the attendees.

Some stakeholders chose to follow up discussions with written submissions, which have been taken into account when compiling this report.

Issues raised and Welsh Government response

We welcomed the significant volume and range of comments provided during our engagement sessions. This has helped pave our thinking when developing proposals for the improvement of public transport across Wales in Bws Cymru.

Taking into account all of the above information, engagement and policy context, we have identified the issues which Bws Cymru will seek to address within the 5 year plan.

Below we have highlighted the main issues which have been raised through all of the engagement activity undertaken by the Welsh Government since the 2017 Bus Summits, up to and including the specific Bws Cymru workshops. We have also provided a response on behalf of the Welsh Government which indicates how these issues have been addressed in Bws Cymru.

Decarbonisation / environmental considerations

Many stakeholders raised the very topical issue of climate change and how the bus sector can contribute to decarbonisation. Issues raised include asking how bus services and fleet play their part in reducing reliance on the car; improving air quality; and tackling the climate emergency. Stakeholders raised the issue of the transition to zero emissions buses plus the significant costs that this will bring to the sector.

The Welsh Government recognises that the bus sector is crucial in addressing the causes of climate change and tackling the climate emergency. Llwybr Newydd seeks to drive a modal shift from cars so that 45% of trips are by sustainable modes, such as buses. Transformative improvements to bus services will be needed to fulfil this target. We have published Net Zero Wales: Carbon Budget 2 which sets the ambition to reduce emissions from passenger transport by 21% in 2025 (compared to 2019) and 90% in 2050. Projects from this relating to buses have been included in Bws Cymru.


Stakeholders, particularly those representing local authorities and bus operators, questioned if bus services are sufficiently funded to create a quality service, particularly as the current COVID-19 emergency support funding would be ending in July 2022 and sufficient planning time would be needed to be prepare for different situations. Others stated that the bus sector receives a significant amount of support from the Welsh Government and questioned if we were getting a good return to the public from this investment.

The Welsh Government recognises that the availability of funding is an important issue to the sector, particularly given the current uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic. Bws Cymru seeks to review many of the different funding streams available to the bus sector to help provide the necessary finance in order to keep crucial services running; separate announcements regarding the end of the Bus Emergency Scheme (BES2) will be made in due course. In terms of partnership working, the Welsh Government does consider that public sector investment in the sector could be better utilised to provide a better return in terms of service standards etc. The projects in Bws Cymru seek to address this by making funding conditional on certain activities towards improvement being taken by the sector.

Availability / reach of services

The convenience of having a service/route that is in close vicinity to where people live and want to go was raised as a significant issue by many stakeholders. This is particular so amongst people who do not have access to a car including young people and the disabled. Having a broad reach of service is important in attracting new bus users and growing passenger numbers in general.

The Welsh Government recognises that the availability of bus services and their ‘reach’ or coverage is a very important issue. Bws Cymru proposes many different projects which will help to grow the network of services in a planned way using a variety of methods. Network planning is crucial in this as well as thinking about what type of service is best given the geography of an area as well as the demand levels associated with a particular place / destination.


Many stakeholders questioned how we can give the public confidence in bus services that they travel on to get them where they want to be and back home again with access to important information regarding changes to journeys.

The Welsh Government appreciates that bus passenger use will only grow if the reliability of services can be guaranteed. It may only take one bad experience to put someone off travelling on a bus for years. However, reliability of services can be related to a number of issues including fleet, staffing issues and congestion. Bws Cymru seeks to address issues directly related to the bus sector through a number of initiatives including the quality and reliability of buses themselves as well as attracting more people into the sector. Bws Cymru seeks to introduce a Bus Passengers Charter which could also explore giving passengers rights in terms of being able to get to their destination. Timely access to information is also important in this regard (see below).

Accessibility and service connectivity

Stakeholders raised the important point around all members of society being able to safely access our bus services. Disabled users told us they have difficulties as there is not always space on the bus and they are unable to access buses due to other vehicles parking on bus stops. Lack of adequate facilities to shelter if it rains or passengers are needing to sit was also raised as a specific issue.

The Welsh Government wants bus travel to be accessible for all. This extends from the time someone arriving at the bus stop or station until they alight at the destination. We know there are many ways in which the bus sector can make improvements to be accessible for all. Bws Cymru seeks to commit the Welsh Government to regular engagement with protected characteristic groups to find out more about bus-specific issues which need addressing. Our engagement events enabled us to ascertain some of these issues but we want to keep this dialogue going so that meaningful change can be made.

Bws Cymru projects will also help to raise the standards of services and supportive infrastructure so that buses are accessible to all. This includes driver training so that they are aware of issues which people face, many of which are not visible, and so they can appreciate these and give the best customer service possible. Bws Cymru seeks to introduce a Bus Passengers Charter which could also explore giving passengers rights in terms of accessible services.


Passengers, particularly those from protected characteristic groups, raised the important issue of safety on buses, particularly at night. Feelings of not being safe can arise from many different aspects including how a passenger feels entering and exiting the bus; how clean the bus is; if CCTV is present on the bus and active; and the behaviour of other passengers.

Passengers must feel safe when travelling by bus. As mentioned previously, bad experiences can stop people from using buses altogether which, in some groups, could lead to isolation. As mentioned previously, Bws Cymru seeks to introduce a Bus Passengers Charter which could also explore empowering passengers in terms of how they should be able to feel when travelling on bus services. Bws Cymru also outlines a number of projects which can be linked to safety issues including driver training, the quality of the bus fleet and design considerations when developing new bus infrastructure, stops and interchanges.


Stakeholders stressed the need for a continued programme of investment in developing bus-related infrastructure. This included quality interchanges and road priority projects for bus travel which not only enables people to get to their destinations more quickly, it also helps to reduce operating costs and the number of bus vehicles needed to run scheduled services.

The Welsh Government recognises that high quality, well-maintained bus infrastructure is necessary to enable the efficient and reliable running of services which is linked to passenger confidence in using the network. Bws Cymru sets out our commitment to invest in a programme of bus infrastructure as well as targeting our funding arrangements at large and small scale bus projects. This focussed investment will need colleagues from across the bus sector to be proactive in identifying the most cost-effective and beneficial projects and agreeing together where funding is best spent.


The view from many of the Bws Cymru workshops was that bus users’ views on public transport was a useful input into developing bus projects and that more passenger involvement was required in order to share first-hand experiences with those making policy and project decisions.

Bws Cymru commits the Welsh Government to an on-going programme of engagement activity with the variety of stakeholders with an interest in this sector. We will look to establish a regular programme of meetings with local authorities, bus operators, professional / umbrella bodies and passenger user groups (including those with protected characteristics).


The quality and accuracy of bus information was raised by a number of stakeholders and was a common theme of discussion in the Bws Cymru workshops. Issues raised included out-of-date and inconsistent information being displayed at bus stops and online; inconsistencies with the information provided by bus operators to inform the Traffic Commissioner of changes to timetables; the availability of information in a variety of formats; and ensuring that online information is updated on a regular basis. Bus users also commented about the importance of having real time information available at bus stops and having audio-visual information on buses. Service withdrawals and any amendments or changes need to be communicated widely so that customers are not left stranded.

The Welsh Government appreciates that access to information encompasses many different aspects across a variety of physical and digital platforms. We also acknowledge the importance that having the most accurate and easy-to-understand information is key to the public in planning and undertaking their bus journeys. Bws Cymru outlines a number of projects to help improve access to information which will include working with other organisations to ensure that information is recorded in an accurate and consistent way which is available in a variety of formats.


Stakeholders raised ticketing as a consistent issue with the bus sectors and how can customers buy one simple ticket for a multiple step journey with ease. They raised the need for integrated ticketing with other transport modes, particularly rail.

The Welsh Government and Transport for Wales are already looking into how we can improve integrated ticketing to make public transport easier and more convenient to use. Bws Cymru introduces projects which will introduce new arrangements for simpler and affordable ticketing options over the 5 year plan period. These include looking at zonal ticketing across public transport, multi-operator schemes, capped fares and electronic tickets.


Making bus travel affordable for all was a common theme across our stakeholder events. We need to ensure that those who rely the most on public transport in general to get around can afford to do so in the future. However, bus travel also needs to be an attractive option for those who currently use their cars to get around for us to be able to achieve the modal shift we desire. The ticket price is a key influencing factor in a person making the switch.

The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring that public transport is affordable to all that need to use it in order to get around in their day-to-day lives. Our Fair Fares work will help ensure that bus travel is more affordable to those that need it most and can make bus travel their sustainable public transport method of choice in the future.  

Customer experience

Throughout our engagement sessions we have heard numerous stories of excellent customer service delivered by bus drivers and companies across Wales. However, we also heard anecdotal evidence of where customer service levels were not as they should be, either through lack of training and understanding on behalf of the driver or through unsatisfactory responses from the bus operator when complaints were made.

Bws Cymru sets out a number of measures in this area, including the creation of a Passenger’s Charter which sets out the minimum expectations that all customers should expect when travelling by bus. Driver training is an important project here and we will look to see how we can make the current system and curriculum more attuned to the issues experienced here in Wales including more effective coverage of equality and language issues.

Promotion and marketing

Getting people onto (or back onto) bus services was an issue raised frequently by stakeholders. They asked how we can positively promote bus services to the public, particularly those who do not travel on buses regularly or not at all. The asked why local authorities have tended, in the past, to promote free car parking in the run up to Christmas, but have not given any financial incentives for using public transport. Some recent examples of local authorities offering free bus travel were also given.

Bws Cymru highlights the campaign which Transport for Wales are preparing to get people confident about travelling on public transport again after the COVID-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that this will be part of an ongoing campaign which will evolve over time to drive the desired recovery and wider shift to public transport use that we desire.

Differing transport needs and challenges: urban and rural

Stakeholders pointed out to us that the experiences of using bus transport in urban and rural areas is very different. They asked how we recognise the different challenges of delivering services in rural areas and yet still deliver regular and reliable services to communities who are heavily reliant on the car at the moment.

The Welsh Government recognises that there is a big difference between the planning for bus operations in urban and rural areas. Bws Cymru outlines a number of projects relating to this, including the planning of bus networks to make sure they are operating in the most effective ways in both urban and rural areas. Also ensuring that the right provision is made in each unique location; if a regular, timetabled bus is not the most suitable Bws Cymru proposes alternatives (such as Community Transport, Fflecsi and Taxi services) that can be used. The co-ordination of these services is crucial if we are to provide a fully integrated transport network.

Driver recruitment, professional standards and succession planning

Stakeholders discussed how we can ensure that there are drivers, local authority transport officers and servicing personnel in the future to help plan and deliver bus services. This was particularly pertinent due to high profile media coverage around the shortage of bus drivers in some areas. Recruitment campaigns were suggested as a solution, however wider issues, including pay, terms and conditions were discussed as to how to make bus driving, and public transport jobs in general, attractive to new entrants.

We acknowledge that challenges exist within the bus and coach industry around staff availability, particularly driver shortages, recruiting new entrants, training and testing, as well as the age profile of drivers. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation due to the decision by some to leave the industry. This raises concerns about future capacity to deliver bus services as the economy continues to reopen beyond COVID-19. Bws Cymru recognises this through a variety of projects which will examine the issues and start addressing the barriers. We also need to look to the future and see what kind of technical jobs will be needed in the low carbon future as it will be extremely important that we have the right skillsets to enable that change efficiently.

Land use planning

New developments need to be located in the best place and have adequate access to public transport from the start. This was the clear message from stakeholders. It was pointed out that public transport provision needs to be in place from day one to ensure that behaviour change is maximised. Stakeholders also discussed incentives in new housing schemes which would help to ‘capture’ modal shift as early as possible.

The Welsh Government’s existing national planning policies already put in place a strong emphasis on sustainable development and the fact that new development should be sited so as to reduce the need to travel. Bws Cymru contains several projects to help improve the advice and guidance we give to local authorities in the design of their local planning policies and in negotiations on the design of new development to ensure that bus services and public transport considerations are thought about at the earliest opportunity.