The new ‘Regional Transport Services Grant’ (RTSG) is a £25m single funding scheme that will replace the former Bus Services’ Operators Grant (BSOG) and the Local Transport Services Grant (LTSG) and Community Transport Concessionary Fares Initiative (CTCFI).
The new scheme will help tackle deprivation and support independent living across Wales by rewarding private companies that deliver measurable targets that passengers most wish to see rather than compensating bus operators on the basis of fuel consumption.
Under the new funding scheme bus operators will now be rewarded for delivering targets such as:
- maintaining a strategic network of core bus routes
- offering affordable fares for all groups
- improving timetable planning
- delivering multi-operator ticketing schemes that simplify ticketing arrangements and reduce costs for the passenger
Carl Sargeant said:
“Bus services play a vital role in meeting our social, economic and environmental objectives – particularly in rural Wales – which is why I’m fully committed to ensuring that we have a bus network that is both reliable, affordable and viable.”
“This new funding arrangement, which has been developed in collaboration with bus operators, will put the passenger first and incentivise operators to deliver services that help tackle deprivation and truly support independent living across Wales.
“This new scheme, rather than rewarding operators for the fuel that they’ve consumed - whether there are passengers on the bus or not - will now place an emphasis on bus companies to run services that serve the needs of the community and are used by passengers. It is essential that operators work with us to increase the number and proportion of bus passengers who pay for their journeys if the bus network is to become secure and sustainable, and if their own businesses are to thrive.”
The Bus Funding Steering Group included the four Regional Transport Consortia, Bus Users UK in Wales, Traveline Cymru, the Public Transport Users’ Committee, the Community Transport Association in Wales and the Confederation of Passenger Transport.
The new scheme will also provide ring-fenced funding for community transport services, which to date have been supported by LTSG and BSOG. In the current financial year, this funding is expected to total approximately £1.3m. Welsh Government funding available for community transport services in 2013-14 will be £2.5m.
A review into the pilot CTCFI scheme has found that an all-Wales roll-out of the scheme remains unaffordable.
Future funding for community transport services, potentially including the 15 CTCFI projects, will be mainstreamed through the new regional approach with more emphasis being placed on collaborative and partnership working with RTCs, local health boards and across the sector. The RTCs will be responsible for determining how their RTSG allocations will be used to support bus and community transport services within their regions.
The Minister has already met members of the four Regional Transport Consortia and Passenger Transport to further discuss the best way of implementing changes to the bus funding scheme across Wales.
The new Regional Transport Services Grant will be introduced on 01 April 2013 and the RTCs have already begun work with bus and community transport operators to identify the sort of networks that are likely to operate from this date.