Bridgend County Borough Council has announced today that they are now considering completely withdrawing all of the subsidies that it provides towards local bus services.
The council and Welsh Government currently support regional and local bus services by subsidising routes that may not be commercially viable. BCBC began the current financial year with a budget of £180,000 to put towards bus services and community transport, supplemented by a Welsh Government grant of £386,826
Earlier this year, Cabinet Members agreed to cut the subsidy for six partly-funded bus routes around Bridgend. Since taking that decision in May, all but one of the six routes are continuing to operate on a commercial basis by the bus companies in some form, albeit with revised timetables which may involve less frequent services.
For example, the number 68 bus between Bridgend and Cefn Glas still runs, but the latest evening departure is now 7pm.
After monitoring the impact of subsidy removals, Cabinet Members have this week agreed to support the removal of all remaining funding for supported bus services in the county borough from 2019/20 onwards to help the local authority meet future savings targets.
A full public consultation will now be held in the next few months so that local residents can have their say before a final decision is taken.
Councillor Richard Young, the council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said:
“Our recent experience demonstrates that the removal of subsidies will not necessarily mean that all routes will no longer be provided in some form. However, the decision to operate them in full or part would lie with the operators who may decide to stop running journeys that aren’t deemed as being commercially viable.
“No-one wants to see money wasted on empty buses making journeys that aren’t in demand, but there are obviously many local residents who do rely on catching a bus to go about their daily lives.
“Before we make any final decision over withdrawing the subsidies we will hold a public consultation to gather local people’s views and will also discuss the matter with the bus companies. We can then properly consider the implications arising from the possible removal of this funding.”
Withdrawing all remaining subsidies would affect the following eight bus services:
·Number 67 First Cymru service from Bridgend to Aberkenfig via Pen-y-Fai (Monday to Saturday).
· Number 37 Easyway service from Maesteg Parc Estate (Daytime Monday to Saturday)
· Number 73 First Cymru service from Bridgend to Blaengarw (Evenings Monday to Saturday)
· Number 76 First Cymru service from Bridgend to Bettws, Vale View Diversion (Monday to Saturday)
· Number 51 Easyway service from Bridgend to Oaklands Road (Daytime Monday to Saturday)
· Number 803 TravelFinal service from Danygraig to Porthcawl (Monday to Saturday)
· Number 61 Peyton Travel service from Nottage to Porthcawl (Circular) (Monday to Saturday)
· Number 16 Easyway service from Bridgend to Blaengarw via Heol-y-Mynydd and Braich-y-Cymmer (Daytime Monday to Saturday)
As a result of austerity, Bridgend County Borough Council has had to save £30m in the last three years, but over the next three years will need to save £30m more to balance the books while continuing to protect services aimed at its most vulnerable residents.