'Many will become isolated': Loss of bus service branded 'catastrophic' by residents near Ebbw Vale

A pilot Fflecsi bus scheme has been running since June 2021 but is set to end in June 2023. Credit: Media Wales

Residents in two villages near Ebbw Vale are worried about how they will get to work and school as the current bus service is due to stop in the summer.

A pilot Fflecsi bus, which is run by Transport for Wales, currently serves the villages of Rassau and Garnlyndan in Blaenau Gwent.

The services started in June 2021, replacing a previous direct bus link, but it is set to end in June this year.

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said it is speaking to Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government about continuing the service.

Residents in the two villages have to use an app or telephone number to book a seat half an hour before they need to travel. Credit: Media Wales.

Ivor Richards, 79, who lives in Rassau, said that the bus service is vital for the village.

He said: "I drive but you never know I might need to use it one day."

Mr Richards said he has the car in case he needs to drive to see a doctor but doesn't feel comfortable driving further afield.

He added that if there was a bus available in the village, which he didn't need to call or use an app to book, he would use it to travel the area.

Blaenau Gwent council said it is speaking to Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government about continuing the service. Credit: Media Wales.

A mum-of-two, who did not want to be named, said that she uses the Fflecsi bus every day to take her daughter to school.

She said: "I don't drive and we rely on the bus for everything, going to school, doctor's appointments and food shops."

She said that she will have to walk half an hour to and from school every day.She added that Ebbw Vale is her nearest town, which is a 45-minute walk away from their home, and "many will become isolated" without affordable public transport.

Ella Challenger, 38, from Rassau, has set up a petition to keep buses in the area.

She said that a loss of public transport with be "catastrophic" to the community, especially to the "older generation" and those who may not be able to afford taxi prices every day.

Ms Challenger worries about how her 16-year-old daughter will get to college come September.

She added: "She'll have no way of getting there without a bus. I don't want her walking two miles there, which takes 45 minutes on a good day, one way."

Ms Challenger also has an 18-month-old baby and relies on the bus herself when she goes food shopping with a pram.

She claimed: "It's around £7 in a taxi for two miles down the road into Ebbw Vale town, which is expensive.

"So when we had the bus service it was great, but they're reducing them and now, come June, I don't think we'll have any buses at all - it's absolutely ridiculous."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Transport for Wales are working with Blaenau Gwent Council to consider options for the future of the service, and will be further consulting with the local community over the next few weeks."