Vale MP chairs local bus meeting
2:01pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in News
VALE MP Alun Cairns was overwhelmed by the number of people who attended the public meeting he organised last week with local bus operators.
Over 60 people joined Mr Cairns to question Jason Davies of First Group and Peter Heath from Cardiff Bus. Contributions were also received from Regional Assembly Member Andrew RT Davies and Mike Edwards of Vale 50+ Strategy Forum.
Alun Cairns chaired the packed meeting who heard both Cardiff Bus and First Group explain how and why the recent changes to bus services in Vale of Glamorgan had come about. These included the reduction in the Bus Services Operating Grant and other Local Authority subsidies, which have meant that these commercially operated bus services have had to implement change.
The meeting heard that subsidies given to public transport were not on a level playing field with different modes receiving varying amounts, for example train lines receive a subsidy of £6 per passenger from the Welsh Government which is not the same for bus passengers. The bus managers explained that the cuts in funding had been more in Wales than in England.
Local residents and bus users questioned why Welsh Government were subsidising the T9 airport service by £470,000, which carried very few passengers, when other services were being cut This bus operates a direct route from Cardiff to the Airport has undermined routes previously serviced by Cardiff Bus.
Alun Cairns explained: "I have been trying to tackle this problem for constituents for many months. The changes to services have affected residents from all over the Vale and were reflected by the number of people who attended the meeting. The funding afforded to Local Authorities for bus services have been cut across the country however I know that operators in England have not had the same problem with maintaining transport routes. The Green Bus Fund encourages strong working partnerships between bus companies and their local authorities which are now seeing increased passenger numbers. This partnership working does not appear to be happening in Wales.
"The discussions that took place on Friday were very informative and I would like to thank the bus operators who were able to attend for giving their time to try and answer some of the public's concerns.
"I too, like many of the residents remain baffled about the decisions that have been made with bus services. The decision to make a 12 per cent reduction in the bus operators grant is a political one and those decision makers need to be held to account.
"I will be writing to ask for the reasons and would encourage all residents in the Vale to hold these decision makers to account - firstly they should contact their locally elected councillors; they also need to contact the five assembly members who represent the Vale in the Welsh Assembly and also ask the Leader of the Council how they can justify the money being spent on other matters when bus services for some people are their only life line.
"We have formed an action plan of how people can help and details are on my website, aluncairns.co.uk
"Many residents in the Vale have been left completely isolated and I could recount many stories of the difficulties faced by my constituents."