Plans to re-regulate bus services will be revived by the Welsh Government this Senedd term, after cross-party warnings that problems with current provision left many people felt isolated in their communities.

"Wasteful competition" between bus providers should make way for "greater collaboration," Labour MS Huw Irranca-Davies said, in a debate supported by members from all parties in the Welsh Parliament.

Much of the British bus network was in public ownership until the mid-80s, when it was broken up and taken into private hands.

But there is now an appetite in Wales for government to once again take control of the Welsh network, amid concerns the current system fails to meet customer needs.

This week the Senedd heard representations from around Wales – people who couldn't take the bus to hospital appointments, those who relied on expensive taxis to get to the supermarket, or who refrained from using buses because of traffic problems along routes.


People in less-wealthy areas were most likely to be affected by poor bus services, MSs heard, but the issue also affects the young, the elderly, the disabled, rural communities and those living in the most built-up areas.

Experts have warned previously that the impact of 1980s bus deregulation has generally been negative in Wales. Fares and subsidies have increased since then but with little noticeable benefit, according to the Wales Centre for Public Policy.

Legislation to restructure the way bus companies are run in Wales was due to be drawn up in the past Senedd term, but was shelved due to the pandemic.

Deputy climate change minister, Lee Waters, said the Government would resume that work and publish a plan later this year.

The sector is "often the neglected bit of the public transport system," Waters said, and much of the challenge will be to redress a "social divide" around travelling that way:

Eighty per cent of bus passengers don't have an alternative, but 50 per cent of people never travel on a bus, said the minister.

Regulation of the bus network already exists in places like London. Signs so far suggest the Welsh Government hopes to emulate aspects of the UK capital's model of public transport, with integration of public transport timetables and ticketing systems.

"If it's good enough for London... then it's good enough for Llanelli and Llandudno, and anywhere else in Wales," Irranca-Davies said.

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