1. ITV Report

Wales 'worst-hit part of UK' for bus fare increases

The charity Sustrans Cymru is warning so-called 'transport poverty' in Wales could be on the rise, as official figures show bus fares are up but usage is down.

Wales is the worst-hit part of the UK for fare increases - while also seeing the biggest fall in passenger journeys.

  • Department for Transport figures from March 2013 reveal a 6.9% rise in bus fares compared to March 2012.
  • But passenger journeys were down 5.1% in the year to the end of March 2013, compared to the previous year.

Bus travel is vital for many people on lower incomes and the elderly. A thriving bus system can help tackle social injustice and reduce poverty in Wales.

However, while the Welsh Government can find hundreds of millions of pounds for widening the Heads of Valleys Road, it is cutting grants for buses by a quarter - £8million.

We support the Welsh Government in their calls for the devolution of powers to regulate bus services, but in the mean time these figures show a worrying picture that is likely to see transport poverty in Wales on the increase.

– Matt Hemsley, Sustrans Cymru

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The UK Government has imposed a reduction in the funding for Welsh Government of £1.7bn over the next few years and this has made it very difficult to maintain the current level of support for local bus and community transport services."

In 2013-14, the Regional Transport Services Grant - which replaces the former Bus Service Operators Grant and Local Transport Services Grant - is £25m.

The equivalent combined budget in 2012-13 was £30m.