LAST ditch attempts to urge the Welsh Government to save a vital rural bus service are being made ahead of its planned scrapping date on 31 October.
The fflecsi Bwcabus (previously Bwcabus) has been operating for 14 years, serving rural parts of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, and Pembrokeshire, and providing an essential service for many residents without access to cars or the main public transport network to reach other villages and towns for work, shopping, and medical treatment.
The Welsh Government unexpectedly announced in September that the funding for the service would be cut – giving service users only four weeks’ notice of the termination of the service.
The announcement of the loss of the service led to “disarray” in communities, Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales said, “with many frequent bus users fearing the impact the scrapping of the bus will have on their ability to access medical appointments, work, and other commitments.”
Mr Campbelltabled an urgent Senedd question urging the Welsh Government to reinstate funding while a petition opposing the move gained over 1,750 signatures.
A public meeting held last week, organised by Ceredigion MP and MS Ben Lake and Elin Jones, saw almost 100 residents, together with local councillors, “sharing experiences of how the loss of the valued service will impact their lives.”
Experiences from the meeting were relayed directly to the Welsh Government in the Senedd, as Mr Campbell again challenged Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS on Bwcabus’ future.
“What became clear to us that evening in Llandysul was the harmful effect the scrapping of this service is going to have on the lives of real people,” he said.
“These weren’t e-mails, but lived evidence of how people suffering from epilepsy can’t attend clinics; people who are reliant on physiotherapy on a weekly basis unable to attend their clinics and hospitals, not being able to do the weekly shop; some talking about having to cease employment because they wouldn’t be able get to that place of employment.
“So, within four weeks you decided to end that service. Talk about a cliff edge for people who have to plan their personal futures.”
Elin Jones added: “Last week’s public meeting in Llandysul reflected the strength of feeling locally towards the invaluable service Bwcabus provides for so many residents – young and old. To lose this service – and that at such short notice – is a huge concern locally, and there is a very real danger many residents will be left stranded as this service is scrapped – with taxis scarce and expensive, and no other forms of public transport in place.
“I continue to work alongside colleagues, councillors, community transport organisations and Welsh Government in the hope a solution can be reached.”
In his response, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS said that while he needed “no convincing of the value” of the Fflecsi Bwcabus, he “didn’t think passenger numbers were very strong.
It’s interesting that 100 people turned up at a meeting; it would be interesting to know how many of those were regular users of it. People often don’t want to lose a service, but the very same people often don’t support the service,” he said.