Communities and businesses from across the Valleys will soon benefit from a new Welsh Government funded out of hours bus service.
The pilot, which will run for one year with the option of a second, has been developed through the Welsh Government’s Valleys Taskforce and is one of a range of pilots designed to explore how community transport services can best serve workers or those looking to get into work, delivering a ‘flexible transport to work’ system.
Speaking ahead of the Association of Local Bus Company Managers conference, Economy Minister Ken Skates said:
“Both our Employability Plan and the work done through the Valleys Taskforce make clear that the availability of good quality public services, including reliable transport, is crucial to removing barriers to employment.
“This out of hours mini bus pilot has been put together with local input from those who have the most to gain from it, and will form part of a range of pilots designed to ascertain what works best for those looking for better public transport access to work opportunities, particularly when they are working shift patterns. Along with the £1m Uber-style bus pilots we announced earlier this month, it is part of our wider work to develop a more flexible and responsive public transport servicer right across Wales.
“These pilots will also feed directly into the recent launch of Working Wales, the new Careers Wales function which provides simpler, more accessible support for individuals looking to get into work. It presents an important opportunity to combine more targeted advice for people looking for local employment with a better, more tailored public transport service and I’m hopeful that our multi—faceted approach will help make a difference where it is most needed.
The out of hours bus pilot will serve communities in Maerdy, Ferndale, Blaenllechau Tylorstown, Pontygwaith and surrounding areas and continue on to either Treforest or Nantgarw Industrial Estate or the Pontyclun / Llantrisant area, and is the result of the focus which has been put on transport as part of the Welsh Government’s Valleys Taskforce.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister with responsibility for the Valleys Taskforce said:
“Transport was identified as one of the key priorities in our Valleys Taskforce consultation, which clearly showed that for many, the current nature of bus transport is one of the primary barriers into work.
“There is currently no bus or rail service that will enable someone to get to work for 6am or home once a shift finishes at 10pm, for example, and that is something which needs to be addressed if we are serious about stimulating job growth and boosting local employment.
“These pilots offer a solution that is specific to the Valleys, and as such I am extremely hopeful that they will make a difference I would encourage anyone who feels like this would benefit them or someone they know to use the service and feedback – that will be paramount if we are to get the long term desired effects from these pilots.
In developing these pilots and their routes, the Welsh Government has worked with local employers, employees and the DWP. It has also ensured that the service will be fully wheelchair accessible.
The Welsh Government will work with the DWP, through Jobcentre Plus in Wales, and with employers and communities in the Valleys, to test whether shift-focused, flexible, small scale transport options would encourage a greater uptake of jobs.
The pilot will begin from May 2019 and further detail on timetabling and availability will be available from the Job Centre.