CONVERSATIONS are ongoing in a bid to solve the issue of public transport in the Vale of Glamorgan after it was revealed that bus use in the county is still below pre-Covid levels.

The level of bus use in the Vale is currently at about 70 per cent and many rural communities remain “void of access” to public transport, according to an update report on the council’s mission to net zero carbon emission.

Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet member for sustainable places, Cllr Bronwen Brooks, spoke at an environment and regeneration scrutiny meeting which discussed the Project Zero report on Tuesday, June 20.

Scrutiny committee member Cllr Susan Lloyd-Selby asked at the meeting whether the local authority understood why public transport levels have dropped.

She said: “Is that work being done anywhere so that we can ensure that, rather than trying to replicate bus routes that have been well-used historically, the solutions are actually following the identified need?”

Increasing the use of public transport plays a key role in the local authority’s aim of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Cllr Brooks, who is also the deputy leader of the council, called the issue of public transport in the Vale a “hot potato at the moment”, adding that there  is currently “a lot of work going on” to solve some of the issues relating to it.

She said: “We wholeheartedly recognise that travel has changed and peoples’ expectations and what they are using our public transport for.

“There are a lot of conversations going on to understand the use and about how best we can develop those, particularly the bus services and linking up with trains in our communities, particularly our rural communities, which are often lifelines as well.

“I sit on the regional transport authority so there are a lot of conversations going on between local authorities as well to try and get some joined up thinking with the bus operators and how we can deliver those services for the best of everybody.”

The council’s update report on Project Zero states that the local authority introduced Supported Local Bus Service 321 to provide a north/south link between Llantwit Major and Talbot Green via Cowbridge, Aberthin, Maendy and Ystradowen.

On top of this, on demand transport for rural communities is offered through the council-run community transport service, Greenlinks.

The Welsh Government has also extended its financial support for bus services, through the Bus Emergency Scheme (BES), until the end of March 2024.

However, Cllr Brooks maintained that there is still work to be done. She said: “It is about talking to various groups as well.

“I went to the 50+ Forum last week… to talk about their views and what they are looking for and what their needs are in the communities.

“Some really interesting conversations came up there.

“We are talking about elderly, disabled, but actually about ethnic minority communities as well.

“That conversation is ongoing.”

Project Zero is Vale of Glamorgan Council’s response to the climate emergency, which it declared in 2019.

On top of working towards reducing its own carbon emissions, the project aims to encourage others in the county to help tackle climate change.