25 January 2012: With just 3 months warning the Welsh Government has announced this week a 25% cut to the Bus Service Operator Grant from April 1st 2012.
The Bus Service Operators Grant is paid directly to bus firms, and helps both commercial and subsidised buses. Effectively it is a partial fuel tax rebate for buses. Bus companies and councils in England have been given 18 months to prepare for a 20% reduction starting in April 2012. However only this week the Welsh Government announced an even deeper cut with hardly any notice. The Local Transport Services Grant in Wales has also been reduced this year.
This is terrible news for bus users in Wales, and will no doubt lead to bus cuts and rising fares. For many people buses are the only way they can travel to shops, service, colleges, and places of work. Young people, the elderly, those with disabilities and people who cannot afford to run a car will be hardest hit. Bus cuts will hamper attempts to get more people into work and cause real problems for struggling local economies.
Iain Duncan Smith, suggested that jobseekers in the Welsh town of Merthyr should use the bus to travel to Cardiff to find employment. If jobseekers are expected to travel by bus to find job opportunities, there must be affordable bus services for them to use.