WREXHAM Council has been accused of keeping bus users in the dark after the latest collapse of a local firm caused chaos for passengers.
The authority has been criticised for reacting slowly to the breakdown of Acrefair-based D Jones & Son, which has affected a raft of routes across the borough.
Cllr Dana Davies, leader of the council Labour group, said: “Just over 12 months ago, the Welsh Government gave the three North East Wales councils an extra £300,000 to ensure contingency plans were in place if we saw another scenario like we did when GHA Coaches collapsed. Fast-forward a year and we’re in the same position again. Lessons don’t seem to have been learned.
“The public need to know what’s going on. They are understandably worried, and the lack of communication from the council isn’t helping. People rely on these buses for work, hospital appointments, to do their shopping, and they are being kept in the dark.”
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates has also contacted the council urging them to act.
He said: “This is causing huge problems for my constituents, especially those in the more remote areas. It’s causing chaos, with people having to change work hours, miss appointments and pay money they haven’t got for taxis. We need action.”
Campaigner Jenny Miller, from Penley, said it was the third time in 18 months that her community had been left without a bus service – the 146 Whitchurch-Wrexham route – due to the collapse of a private company. She added: “Some people have lost their jobs, others have been unable to attend important medical appointments in Wrexham and Whitchurch. We have previously been ‘assured’ by WCBC that they have a contingency plan in place.”
Pats Coaches has now taken over the route, but Jenny said residents in the Maelor villages remain ‘very disappointed’ with the lack of communication from the council.
In December 2016, the Welsh Government announced emergency funding of £300,000 for Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire councils to restore key routes and get improved contingency plans in place. This was in addition to the millions of pounds of funding local councils get from the Welsh Government each year to subsidise bus services in their area.
The Welsh Labour Government has provided £25m to councils every year since 2013 to help them meet their duty of providing bus and community transport services.
Most bus services across Wales are provided commercially in response to operators’ analysis of demand, cost and profitability. When such services are not provided, it is for each local authority to determine which services to support (subsidise), based on its assessment of local circumstances and priorities, using their own budgets supplemented by grant funding from the Welsh Government.