01/10/2013

Arriva to pull out of Ceredigion


Arriva have announced the ending of their bus services in Ceredigion and the closure of depots in Aberystwyth, New Quay, Lampeter and Dolgellau. 

The company’s commercial services though the county will stop on 21st December and the 585 subsidised route, which Ceredigion County Council helps to fund, will finish on 15th February next year. 46 staff have received redundancy notices. 

The closures look like this:

From 21st December:
20  Aberystwyth - Cardiff
40  Aberystwyth - Carmarthen 
40C  Lampeter - Carmarthen
50  Aberystwyth - New Quay
x94  Wrecsam - Dolgellau - Barmouth

From 15th Feb 2014:
585  Aberystwyth – Tregaron - Lampeter

Details of all bus services running in Ceredigion are here

Whilst Arriva have fulfilled their statutory duties in terms of giving notice of the cuts, it’s very disappointing that more warning couldn’t have been given to allow other companies and agencies time to see what could be done to maintain these key routes through the county. In fact, at the time of writing, Ceredigion County Council had still not received formal notification of the plans.

As I've blogged about before, the Welsh Government have cut bus funding  by 25% this year and the effects of this had already started to be noticed with Arriva pulling out of some more minor services at the end of July. 

In a sane transport environment, everyone would be given plenty of notice and enabled to plan ahead for these kinds of changes. However the 1985 Transport Act, in which bus services were de-regulatedenables commercial companies to make decisions like this at very short notice and without consultation.

Arriva’s abrupt announcement actually makes a very strong case for the re-regulation of bus services and full devolvement of transport to Wales. Although transport is a devolved matter, the laws that govern it unfortunately aren't and this ties our hands in developing the kind of coherent bus system most of us in Wales would support.

Although, as a fairly regular bus user, I don't normally have problems using Arriva, there's no denying that the company are very unpopular with local bus campaigners who have accused them for years of running a poor service. 

The best case scenario now is that local bus companies, of which there are several and who Ceredigion Council has a very good relationship with, could pick up the routes that are being lost and bus users could actually end up with a better service than Arriva has been providing. The County Council will certainly be doing anything it can to help facilitate this.

Update 5/10/13: Constructive talks held with Welsh Government yesterday. Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Carmarthenshire Councils are actively pursuing solutions together for maintaining these routes

2 comments:

  1. My experience is that the Mid Wales Transport service which replaced the Arriva service between Aberystwyth and Ynyslas is much more reliable and friendly than the Arriva service had been.

    If these new cuts result in a better service from local operators that's all to the good. But if the level of available subsidy is insufficient for these to be taken up it will raise serious questions about the effects of subsidy cuts on the viability of life in rural areas. There were bus users interviewed on the news last night who said they simply wouldn't be able to get to work if the bus ceases to run.

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  2. There are two types of bus service, council-tendered routes (as I believe the 585 is) and 'commertial' (everything else on that list I think). Personally, I think tendered services are a more sensible way of going about things, funding permitting.

    Most obviously, having a contractial commitment to run the service should prevent bus services disapearing overnight (the 585 seems to illustrate this quite well, with the later withdrawal date). Council control could also help provide a more comprehensive service, eg. later evening services and earlier morning ones, rather than just the profitable core of a service.

    Arriva's commertial operation also frustrates me because the law prohibits subsidised(contracted) services operating over a commertial route, meaning the TrawsCambria X50 serivce (Aberystwyth - Cardigan) is actually only Aberaeron - Cardigan most of the day. Through tickets, other than the West Wales Rover, to Aberystwyth from Cardigan are now only valid on Richards Bros services, the council has no way of making Arriva accept through tickets on their 'commertial' routes.

    Plenty of room for improvement. Let's have a council-tendered network with the X50 running through to Aberystwyth all day (with good (7minute) connections to/from Lampeter), through ticketing between operators, and improved hours of operation (and hopefully the TrawsCymru buses prommised before Arriva removed the X from the X40) on the Aberystwyth - Carmarthen route.

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