POLITICS IN THE DRIVING SEAT

AS WALES ROLLS OUT TRAWSCYMRU ELECTRIFICATION

The Welsh Government is targeting long-distance rural bus routes for electrification ahead of urban networks, where investment in new vehicles largely stopped in 2017. RHODRI CLARK considers the costs and public benefits of this approach

One of the Yutong E12s introduced on the T1 last year climbs out of Aberystwyth on April 1.
RHODRI CLARK

The recent revelation that the TrawsCymru T1 route, between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth, saw a 65% increase in passenger numbers in the first year since electric buses were introduced was welcome confirmation that declining bus usage is not inevitable. The launch of the new Yutong buses in March 2023 was accompanied by enhancements to the timetable, discounting of fares and some improvement to bus infrastructure.

The passenger growth reinforces the message, previously heard loud and clear from the Sherpa’r Wyddfa upgrade in 2022, that the public will respond to well-planned service enhancements. The Sherpa enhancement did not involve introducing any electric vehicles.

The electric buses and other T1 enhancements were made during a year when large numbers of other Welsh services were reduced or completely withdrawn because the Welsh Government’s emergency support funding was £7m to £9m below what would have sustained the network. In February this year, electric buses commenced operation on the new TrawsCymru T22 route between Blaenau Ffestiniog, Porthmadog and Caernarfon.

Want to read more?

This is a premium article and requires an active subscription.

Existing subscriber? Sign in now

No subscription?

Pick one of our introductory offers