16 April 2014
First Cymru managing director Justin Davies said local authorities were reducing 'reams' of services. Challenging council budgets for this year follow major reductions in the Welsh Government’s funding for buses and community transport.
Carmarthenshire CC’s tendered services around Llanelli, operated by First Cymru, will reduce significantly next month, Mr Davies revealed.
'I’ve been working with Carmarthenshire on different ways to keep the network together. Carmarthenshire are a good authority, with good officers. They’ve got a budget cut and we’re trying to make it work,' he said.
Many Arriva-operated tendered services in North Wales are also set to be reduced.
A spokesman said: 'All the variations taking place, which include service reductions in the Llandudno, Bangor and Wrexham areas, are changes to local tendered services and made by the local authorities as a result of reduced local service support grants available to them.'
Last week the Welsh Government’s bus advisory group, including representatives of the industry and local government, held its inaugural meeting.
Mr Davies said it would improve consultation between the industry, health boards and others: 'If there’s a glimmer of hope, this is it. We’ve got to get through these next couple of years and come out in a more positive place. But the danger is, in the meantime we’ve lost a lot of patronage and damaged the industry.'
He had highlighted tendered service reductions to the group. 'There’s reams of them coming off. There are whole communities that are now cut off.'
Stagecoach and Cardiff Bus are the first companies making major cuts of their own in response to the 11% drop in the Labour government’s concessionary travel budget. This week a Labour Assembly Member and a Labour parliamentary candidate joined a 100-strong protest against the Cardiff cuts.
Some operators are waiting until the summer, when the reduced rate kicks in, before deciding on service amendments. Mr Davies said, adding 'I’m not going to wait until July, because I know what will happen. A budget is a budget'.