A review of bus services in north Wales appears to endorse the Welsh government’s opinion that costs can be reduced by addressing widespread duplication of services.
The Cardiff government has repeatedly said that franchising or other models of public sector control would deliver substantial cost savings by enabling ‘over-bussing’ and ‘duplication’ to be stripped out. It shelved bus legislation because of the Covid-19 pandemic but aims to exert more control in return for its bus emergency funding, with its Transport for Wales company given an increasing role in planning and, potentially, operating services.
In November, deputy transport minister Lee Waters said that in the deregulated environment ‘you tend to have, on a small number of routes, a lot of competition on a lot of services because there’s profit to be made’.
The first specific example of alleged duplication has come to light through a Freedom of Information Act request. The first stage of a review of north Wales services, conducted by the Arup consultancy for TfW, found ‘inefficient use of bus resource with duplication and lack of coordination on some corridors’.