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Book-a-Bus service for rural commuters
The new bus service, the first-of-its-kind in Wales, has been made possible with almost £450,000 of Convergence Funding through the Welsh Assembly Government. It will enable passengers to book their bus rides from home which will link up with conventional bus and train services in the surrounding area.
The three-year pilot project, known as Bwcabus, is aimed at providing transport for people who live in rural communities and cannot access employment, education and training.
It is set to start early next year when passengers will be able to ring a central number to book their journey in advance.
Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, announced that he had approved European funding for the £900,000 scheme managed by Carmarthenshire County Council.
This pioneering service will help many people living in rural communities to overcome the barriers to accessing employment, training and other educational opportunities resulting from poor public transport. It is a key commitment of One Wales to drive forward sustainable, local transport initiatives and help to create more sustainable communities.
The scheme will combine the latest technologies including GPS and scheduling software to achieve a more effective and efficient integrated rural public transport network.
The pilot scheme was developed in collaboration with students from the Wales Transport Research Centre at the University of Glamorgan, who established the original model which could eventually be rolled out across rural Wales. The centre will continue to provide advice and technical support throughout the project.
Mr Jones, who is also Minster for the Economy and Transport, said:
This is an excellent example of partnership working and demonstrates how European funding can be used to pilot innovative schemes which could benefit communities across rural Wales.
Project leaders hope the scheme will encourage more people to use public transport, reversing the long term decline of rural bus use and making easier for people to get to work.
Welcoming the funding, Carmarthenshire’s Head of Transport, Trevor Sage, said:
This is a substantial grant which will bring significant improvements to the communities involved. It is the aim of the council to help provide a good public transport service and we are constantly looking at ways of how it can be improved and developed.
The Bwcabus project is designed to overcome barriers to employment and enable people to access training and other job opportunities. It will integrate demand responsive transport with conventional bus and train services.
The new buses will run in rural areas of north Carmarthenshire, the Teifi Valley and South Ceredigion.
There will be a feeder bus service which will cover the area around Cynwyl Elfed, Drefach Felindre, Henllan, Newcastle Emlyn and Cenarth, while the existing 460 service between Carmarthen and Cardigan will be upgraded to provide a direct, hourly service from 7am-7pm Monday to Saturday.
There will also be a new clock-face timetable connecting with train services and other bus services in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.