Arriva bows out

Map of Arriva bus routes to be cut

Departa

Arriva Buses Wales is giving the campaign to rebuild Wales missing rail link an early Christmas present. All its routes south from Aberystwyth – to Aberaeron, Newquay, Lampeter, Camarthen and Cardiff – are to be cut from December 21st.

The shock announcement removes the only long distance public transport link between mid-west and south Wales. Arriva, a multi-national company, is doing this because it can. It is simply acting in its own commercial interests – and that’s government policy. Quoted on the BBC, the Welsh Government’s first reaction, besides being “naturally disappointed” was that it was a “commercial matter for the company”.

A brief reality check is needed here. A Labour government is in power in Cardiff Bay. That’s the party that nationalised our railways in the public interest in the 1940s. But all it can say today about the closure of west Wales’ main north-south public transport link is that it is a commercial matter.

We think not. This absurd situation is a consequence not only of Beeching’s destruction of the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth rail service, but of Tory deregulation of buses in the 1980s. Even though the Tories went on to privatise the railways, it would be impossible (and illegal) for a rail link between Wales’ capital city and the home of its National Library and a leading university to be closed on a commercial whim.

And that is the bottom line of the case against buses. Easy come, easy go. No doubt local operators will be found to run replacement services for a while, some of which may even provide decent transport links with other providers. But sooner or later, even these services will succumb to the under-funded, underregulated world of bus transport.

Fishguard Trains has not previously been a great supporter of the campaign to restore rail between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. But Arriva’s commercial decision now throws down a gauntlet to any politician in Cardiff Bay who claims to want a well-connected Wales in future. If you mean business, you’ll have to go by train.

7 Comments

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7 Responses to Arriva bows out

  1. Rhydgaled

    I could write an article on this, and might do so. For now though I will say three things:

    1. I agree there is a general public attitude against buses. If you mean business, you’ll have to go by train. However, routes like Fishguard to Aberystwyth will never have a direct rail link. This is why I firmly believe that to achieve a environmentally friendly transport system that attitude against buses MUST be corrected.
    2. A few years ago there WAS a glimmer of hope that such a correction might be possible. TrawsCambria had growing passenger numbers on the Newtown – Brecon/Merthyr and Cardigan/New Quay – Aberystwyth routes. Sadly Arriva and the Welsh Assembly have wrecked TrawsCambria.
    3. Some of the new buses ordered for the Welsh Government sponsored plans to upgrade the Carmarthen – Aberystwyth service (plans which were canceled due to Arriva’s commertial activities) are now to be found operating an every-20min shuttle between Cardiff and Cardiff Airport, a journey for which a rail option was already available for most of the way with a bus connection at the end. The new 20min airport service is reportedly* subsidised at a cost of £1,284 per day or £466,000 a year. In 2010** the five TrawsCambria routes (Cardigan – Aberystwyth, Carmarthen – Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth – Bangor, Barmouth – Wrexham and Newtown – Brecon/Merthyr) received a total subsidy of £720,000 per annum. Over half the cost of the old network funding one unecessary route to support one of the most environmentally damaging forms of transport (aviation).

    * source
    ** source

    • 87J

      I assume the service was withdrawn for lack of passengers or was this a viable route?

      • Rhydgaled

        The buses, or the trains? The Arriva buses 40 and 50 have about a month left to run, and I believe are close to but not quite viable (given that Arriva have been running them on a commertial basis for a while now, they can’t have been making big loses).

  2. Rob Phillips

    You should come along to the public meeting in Lampeter on October 17th where there will be a good discussion on the railway.

    http://www.transitionllambed.co.uk/item/485154

  3. Rhydgaled

    Retrograde steps on the bus front I’m afraid. In just a few hours the final Arriva 40 Sunday service will run, which I believe is the last Sunday bus service in Ceredigion.

    Also the X50 service between Aberystwyth and Cardigan will be scrapped (except for one journey each way) next week and replaced with a new X50 service taking between 17 and 30 minutes longer due to being rerouted via New Quay (and Aberporth on some services).

  4. Kevin McManus

    in the mean time how do i take my daughter from the ferry to university open day in lampeter? any help/advise or a lift would be wonderfull. am willing to pay!

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