• The future of bus and rail in Wales

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    Following a sustained period of proactive engagement between CTA Cymru and Welsh Government, we have seen in the publication of Llwybr Newydd  and Bws Cymru that Community Transport (CT) is being recognised as a key element in delivering an integrated and sustainable public transport network for Wales, and opportunities to support the sector to grow and innovate are being set out. The team across Wales are working tirelessly to feed in the views and experiences of our members and the wider Third Sector transport operators, to shape the way these opportunities, legislation and policy develop, and ensure that the networks that result are accessible, inclusive, and sustainable in how they meet peoples’ needs. 

    A key part of this policy-shaping is the scrutiny process, which in Wales is delivered through the Senedd. The Senedd’s Committees – made up of a cross-party group of Members of the Senedd – look at the work of the Welsh Government and other public organisations in Wales in specific devolved areas, carrying out inquiries and producing reports, holding Welsh Government to account and carefully examining proposed laws. 

    They decide what issues to look at and gather information and evidence from those affected and expert organisations. Our Director for Wales, Gemma Lelliott, was asked to provide expert evidence to the Senedd’s Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, on the future of bus and rail in Wales. 

    The Committee is considering: 

    • Priorities for post Covid recovery for Welsh bus and rail; 
    • The action required to achieve Welsh Government targets for modal shift to these modes and behaviour change; and 
    • Views on proposals for bus and rail reform – including UK Government plans to reform the rail industry, and Welsh Governments plans for regulation of bus services / the Bus White Paper.

    The CTA Cymru team have informed the Committee’s work through focus groups, 1-2-1 interviews, producing a written report and on Thursday 26th May 2022, providing evidence as part of a panel of bus and rail representatives to the Committee directly. You can watch the recording here on Senedd.tv and you can see the results of the Bus and Rail Engagement findings in English here and Welsh here . Gemma highlighted the fact that the CT sector is thriving in this post-Covid recovery phase, with passenger numbers returning to (and in places exceeding) pre-pandemic ridership. In contrast with commercial public transport, we can see that demand responsive transport options which support people to connect with their communities continue to be a popular choice (where there is a choice available), and that CT operators are determined to support people in their communities in a way that works for them. Gemma also noted the importance of accessible services which see all passengers – both current and potential – as being of value and deserving of support. And she also discussed the need for planned and sustainable funding options to support the sector to thrive and take on the challenge of decarbonising to meet Welsh Government’s net zero aspirations. While the commercial bus sector seems to only see the challenges inherent in the ’One network, one timetable, one ticket’ White Paper, the CT sector is poised to take on the opportunities inherent in a community-led franchised system that has been designed with end users in mind. While we recognise there will be challenges in this transition which our sector will need support to navigate, we stand ready to provide that support to enable and empower the CT operator network to shape and deliver a transport system that is fit for future generations.  

    We welcome Welsh Government’s aspiration to deliver a truly integrated and connected public transport network that is designed and developed in partnership with local communities to actually meet people’s needs. CT has an important role to play in this, and we look forward to working in partnership with officials, Ministers and Members of the Senedd to ensure Wales’ transport network is accessible to everyone, regardless of income, access needs or location, and making sustainable transport modes the first and best choice for people making a journey. 

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