Sampling a cross-border bus service which the Welsh Government rescued last year, RHODRI CLARK finds confused branding and problems with reliability, but encouraging passenger growth
The omens were poor when the Welsh Government launched a bus service between Chepstow and Bristol city centre in June 2020. Tolls for crossing the Severn by either motorway bridge had been abolished in December 2018, making the car significantly more competitive on price. First and Stagecoach had both tried and failed to make a similar service work, before Covid-19 devastated bus passenger numbers.
The government had nothing to lose, however. Its T9 service from Cardiff city centre to Cardiff Airport had been suspended with the airport’s closure to passengers. Adventure Travel, which operated the T9, switched some of the vehicles to the new X7 cross-Severn service, which was inaugurated at no additional cost to taxpayers.
By the end of 2020, the government had invited tenders for a new contract, which was awarded to Newport Transport. The service was renumbered T7, consistent with the numbers of government-funded TrawsCymru services. The vehicles carry TrawsCymru branding but the name means ‘cross Wales’ – and the T7 doesn’t cross any part Wales except the two miles from Chepstow bus station to the M4 west of the Severn Bridge!