23/06/2014

Sunday buses returning between Aberystwyth & Carmarthen

Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire Councils have announced the awarding of the new contract for the 40 bus service - between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen via Lampeter - to First Cymru

The new contract will commence in the first week of August, and will be a significant improvement upon the current service:
* There will be four new return services on Sundays and Bank Holidays. 
* A brand new late-night return service will be launched between Aberystwyth and Lampeter. 
* There will be a new early-morning service leaving Aberystwyth at 7.40am, arriving in Lampeter by 9am. 
* In addition, the 5.07pm service from Carmarthen, which currently stops at Lampeter, will now travel all the way through to Aberystwyth.

The changes have all been agreed in response to requests at public consultation events and they represent a significant improvement to the service. 

Since the Arriva pull-out in December last year, the two Councils have been negotiating with more sympathetic suppliers and, despite the ongoing funding challenges to the whole of local government, Ceredigion’s bus services are now better than for several years. 

10 comments:

  1. AnonymousJune 23, 2014

    Excellent work. Nice to see good transport planning in difficult times. Hopefully there will now be a period of stability.

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  2. Has the full timetable been published anywhere? It certainly sounds like a slight improvement, although I can't pass judgement until seeing the full timetable.

    Some stability would also be nice, but not too stable I hope since the xx:40 departure times from Aberystwyth need to be revised to xx:45 (primarily to allow the Cardigan/New Quay service to depart at xx:15, making it slightly more accessible from a work/college/school/university exit on the hour.)

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  4. I'm sure that the new timetable will be an improvement. However I wonder how, as a county councillor, you feel about taxpayers money being used to directly compete with a facility that already exists ( service 701 0740 and 0940 ex Aberystwyth and 1525 & 1825 wx Carmarthen) and also I wonder if you realise that under the terms of the 1985 Transport Act it is illegal for a subsidised service to directly compete with a commercially provided service. I'm also pretty sure that it would be deemed unfair competition under the terms of the relevant legislation for one operator to be paid a subsidy when the other operator gets nothing.

    was the operator of the 701 offered a de minimis payment to integrate it's service into the 40/40c timetable?

    will the councils involved pay the operator compensation if the 701 becomes no longer viable..and is withdrawn?

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  5. The 701 is currently incorporated into the timetable for the 40 route. This seemed to make sense at the time in terms of efficient use of resources and I've certainly supported that. However the responses received at the Council's public consultation events have shown that this is very unpopular. The main problem is that the 701 will not accept other companies' tickets and not even the West Wales Rover Ticket. This has been shown to be a crucial issue for many bus users.

    Re the legality issue – the routes will differ at Pencarreg and Pencader, again in response to requests from the public.

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    1. whether people want something or not does not make it legal. The Transport Act 1985 is quite explicit that a subsidised journey must not SUBSTANTIALLY compete with a commercial journey. Only half the journeys on T1 will operate via Pencarreg with the other half continuing to operate via Llanwnen. Are you really sure that over a 50 mile route a couple of small deviations constitute a SUBSTANTIALLY different route?

      In any case why can the T1 not operate xx10 from Aberystwyth and xx40 from Carmarthen? that would avoid any direct competition with 701 AND would give the benefit to customers of a half hourly service on the hours when 701 operates.

      I also note that you didn't reply to 2 specific questions... namely was the operator of 701 offered a de minimis payment to fully integrate with the new T1 service (ie make tickets fully inter available)?

      and will the councils involved pay the operator compensation if , as a direct result of the direct competition from their subsidised service, the 701 is withdrawn as uneconimical?

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  6. These may or may not be fair questions from the perspective of a rival company but I'd respectfully suggest that a blog comments section is not the best place to try to conduct business or legal negotiations. Instead, you should e-mail questions to Ceredigion's Corporate Passenger Transport Unit at cptu@ceredigion.gov.uk

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  7. Excuse me but I am not a rival company... I am a taxpayer and also an enthusiast for public transport... and as such I believe my questions are fair and valid as the way the new contract is formed is using money to compete with a commercial service, which is wasteful of scarce resources.

    Or do you believe that taxpayers don't have the right to challenge their elected representatives on the use of their money?

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  8. OK, benefit of the doubt and all that....
    As I've said, using the 701 as part of the 40 timetable has been tried and found to be unpopular with the bus users who have contacted the Council and taken part in public consultations. Until that feedback was received, I agreed with you about the need for companies to work together to make efficient use of resources and had supported the two buses being part of the same timetable. It just didn’t work.

    You quote the 1985 Transport Act; however the Transport Act 2000 actually changed this slightly.
    Section 152 of this Act removed the constraint, imposed by section 92(1) of the 1985 Act, that, in exercising powers to subsidise those services, local authorities must not act so as, "to inhibit competition". This requirement was replaced by a new duty to have regard to the interests of the public and of operators. This was intended to make it easier for authorities to subsidise additional service frequency.

    So, for example, it was the 2000 Act that made it legal for Ceredigion to subsidise the popular half-hourly service between Aberaeron and Aberystwyth whereas, under the old rules, doing so would have been seen as taking away from Arriva’s hourly service.

    In the case of the 40 (looks likely to be called the T1 from August) and the 701, the 701 does not offer a service throughout the day, nor a service in each direction at peak times. Nor does it offer fully accessible vehicles, ticket interavailability or through-ticketing with other bus and rail services. It can therefore be argued that the service does not meet the needs of much of the travelling public. Of course the 701 operator did have the opportunity to tender for the T1 and offer an integrated service (so that’s a ‘No’ re the de minimise question).

    Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the new service is not funded from Local Authority budgets but directly by the Welsh Government, having consulted with the Local Authorities.

    Hope this explains things.

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  9. "I wonder if you realise that under the terms of the 1985 Transport Act it is illegal for a subsidised service to directly compete with a commercially provided service."

    I have read the whole Act and I have heard this statement quoted by others before you.

    It's not true. The Act does not mention anything about competition between services. As such, any competition that I see from day to day constitutes an act of fraud.

    Here is the full description of the Act in its introduction:

    "An Act to amend the law relating to road passenger transport; to make provision for the transfer of the operations of the National Bus Company to the private sector; to provide for the reorganisation of passenger transport in the public sector; to provide for local and central government financial support for certain passenger transport services and travel concessions; to make further provision with respect to the powers of London Regional Transport; to make new provision with respect to the constitution, powers and proceedings of the Transport Tribunal; to make provision with respect to grants payable under section 92 of the Finance Act 1965; to establish a Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee; and for connected purposes."

    The 701 service already receives a "de-minimis" payment through the concessionary fares scheme. Also, it is not a competing service as it does not accept any tickets from other operators or issue tickets accepted by other operators.

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