The Welsh Government is investing almost 1.3 million to make it easier for people in valley communities and those without access to digital technology to benefit from new and improved public transport, Ministers have announced today.
The two projects, which include the extension of the Fflecsi bus scheme contact centre and the Western Valleys Transport pilot, will not only help improve transport links, connect communities and provide solutions that are accessible to all, but also help tackle the climate emergency - with the introduction of new electric buses and the development of options to travel more actively.
The Western Valleys Transport Pilot will provide opportunities for people to connect across communities for work, education, health and social activities by developing new and inclusive services whilst improving and making the most of existing investment in active travel and e-bike rental schemes.
Throughout the 12 month pilot, the Community Transport Association (CTA), will work closely with communities in the Amman, Swansea, Dulais and Neath Valleys to understand more about the types of journeys people want to make and help identify the types of transport that is best suited to local needs.
These options could range from the development of active travel provision to community electric car clubs and e-bike loans, making it easier for people to connect to vital services in a more sustainable and healthy way. The initial focus of the pilot will be on existing and traditional community transport provision, through the use of electric mini buses.
In addition, investment is being made to expand a service that helps people without access to digital technology to access Fflecsi bus services across Wales.
The Fflecsi scheme contact centre, run by Transport for Wales, provides support and help for some of the most vulnerable people in the community who need to book essential travel arrangements, but are unable to do so via the Fflesci app, providing a lifeline for people to get out and about.
The additional funding will enable the contact centre to extend its opening hours, provide additional tailored door-to-door services for disabled passengers or those with other mobility needs and provide more targeted support to communities that use the contact centre. The centre will also work with communities to raise awareness of the service.
Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with responsibility for transport, Lee Waters said:
Improving transport links in communities is not just about improving services but about changing the lives of people across Wales and is an excellent example of how investment in tackling climate change has far broader community benefits.
Making low carbon transport options more accessible, attractive, affordable and easier to use is not only the right and responsible thing to do for the environment, but also plays a vital part in connecting communities.
Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, who has responsibility for the South Wales Valleys within the Welsh Government, added:
The Western Valleys Transport pilot we're announcing today is designed to tackle issues so many people in our valleys communities face on a daily basis - infrequent and unreliable access to public transport, which can cause significant issues for people when they need to travel to access work, education, services and social opportunities.
This investment is an important part of our work to improve the lives of people living in these communities, demonstrating this Welsh Government's commitment to the valleys.