Public Transport and Buses – Update
There has been further media coverage of the Welsh Government’s legislative proposals regarding public transport and bus services in Wales including the Concessionary Fare scheme.
You may be aware that earlier this year the Welsh Government consulted on a range of issues about public transport and has recently announced that legislation will come forward in the next Assembly term. The Economy and Transport Minister has this week stated:
“The changes proposed in the Bill will seek to address some of the negative impacts of deregulation on users, operators and authorities, by creating a number of tools which would enable local authorities to intervene should they chose to do so. Using these tools alone however, will not halt or reverse the decline in bus patronage. Our aim is to increase the number of people using public transport by encouraging travellers to switch from private car use, thereby reducing congestion, carbon emissions and improving air quality and economic performance. We want to see more people using public transport to get them where they need and want to be, quickly and on time”.
“The legislative proposals set out in the White Paper provide a range of legislative tools to empower local authorities to work collaboratively with each other and with bus operators to respond flexibly to local community needs”.
You can read the Written Statement here, which includes a link to the Regulatory Assessment.
Concessionary Pass Scheme
The statement also covers the Welsh Government’s proposals in respect of the eligible age for the concessionary pass.
“The Bill will also amend the eligibility age for the mandatory concessionary fares scheme so that over time it will align with a person’s state pension age. Work has been underway to develop a draft Regulatory Impact Assessment to consider the potential costs and benefits of the proposed legislation. Officials will continue to engage with key stakeholders over the summer with a view to updating and refining the document in the lead up to the Bill’s introduction and throughout the legislative process”.
The impact assessment also states “Any existing pass holders would not be affected”, which was also set out in the previous consultation paper.
When might this happen?
The Regulatory Impact Assessment which is linked to the statement makes a number of assumptions to assess the proposed legislation. The assessment assumes:
- The primary legislation would receive Royal Assent in April 2021 – subject to the will of the Assembly,
- The Bill would not come in to force before April 2022,
- Incremental changes would mean those approaching 60 and expecting to receive a pass would not have to wait until there were 67 years old to get one.
However the Minister has requested that further work takes place on the assumptions so that the implications of the change on patronage, choice of transport etc.
I will of course keep constituents informed as this legislation is introduced and scrutinised in the National Assembly for Wales.
Replacing Existing Bus Passes
There is a seperate piece of work to replace the existing bus passes with a smartcard pass. That is a seperate piece being managed by Transport for Wales on behalf of local authorities and all existing bus passes will be replaced by the end of the year.