Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change
Today I have published a statement with partners from industry and local authorities setting out a further extension to our Bus Emergency Scheme (BES). Since the pandemic Welsh Government has spent over £150m through BES to keep vital bus services running.
I can confirm we will extend BES for a further three week period to the end of this academic year. The scheme will now run to 24th July 2023. This will mean that school transport will continue as normal. It will also provide further stability for the industry while we work on the transition away from emergency style funding to plan bus networks which better suit the new travel patterns we have seen since the end of the pandemic.
In addition, I have asked TfW, local authorities and the Community Transport Association to establish regional network planning teams to understand the impact of the ending of BES and to resolve the network issues that are likely to arise from the change in funding regime. This will help optimise the network and maintain as much reach and access as possible.
We will continue to meet regularly and work closely together and with other partners to build a strong and sustainable bus network for Wales.
The Welsh Government will continue to work with Local Authorities and bus operators to maximise the funding available for the remainder of the financial year and will provide an update in due course. This will need to act as a bridge to our franchising plans.
To help deliver the Welsh Government’s ambitious plan to reform bus services in Wales, One Network, One Timetable, One Ticket, I have asked Jonathan Bray, outgoing Director of the Urban Transport Group, to lead a panel of experts providing advice on putting that plan into practice. Membership of the panel will be announced in due course.