Protestors in Aberaeron formed a ‘walking bus’ and called for a return to pre-pandemic services levels – and hourly T1 and T5 buses.
Since the pandemic, the T1 (Aberystwyth to Carmarthen) and T5 (Aberystwyth to Cardigan) have been cut and now only run once every two hours, and not hourly as they did before.
Protestors say this is ‘isolating’ and is having a negative impact on tourism. When buses do arrive, locals and tourists find themselves ‘absolutely packed’ or ‘left behind at the stop.’
One protestor, Greg Parman-Sibley who lives in Talgarreg, claimed using the T5 bus to make a shopping trip can take him up to nine hours.
Gathering at Aberaeron’s bus stop at 10am on Saturday, 17 June, protestors formed the shape of a bus, with members in high-visibility clothing representing its front and back, and someone playing the role of the conductor.
The ‘walking bus’ travelled around the park in the centre of town, before pulling into the bus stop where its ‘passengers’ disembarked.
The idea came from Marilyn Elson, a member of the protest group. It mimicked a comedic sketch from the 1970s TV show Sykes, where a bus route gets cancelled and its users decide to walk the route as if they were still on the bus.
Ms Elson said: “It was an hilarious program, but it was making a serious point.
“The service is dysfunctional. It is affecting people from all walks of life, not just me, but people who go to work, to the doctor or the hospital, people who want to shop or visit friends, or want to take their kids to school.
“On Saturdays it’s even worse when we’ve got the tourists here; our buses are packed solid and sometimes people are left behind at the stop.”
Buses are the only means of public transport in Ceredigion, and that means the Welsh Government or our local politicians have got to put their money in.
T5 bus user Ellie Foster
Ellie Foster, who lives in Aberaeron and rides the T5 bus regularly, said: “We have been asking for an hourly service back for quite some time now.
“We still don’t have a Sunday service or a bank holiday service; because we are on a really touristy route, our buses get absolutely packed.
“Every time the Welsh Government or our local politicians say there aren’t enough passengers, I wish they would get on the bus with us.
“This supply line statement that there aren’t enough passengers is complete nonsense.
“We don’t have trains, buses are the only means of public transport in Ceredigion, and that means they’ve got to put their money in.”
Mr Parman-Sibley said: “It can take anywhere up to nine hours to do a round trip from where I live, which includes an hour’s walk to the bus stop and an hour’s walk back.
“It’s beginning to isolate people, particularly people in rural areas with no other form of transport.”
The Cambrian News has approached Transport for Wales and is awaiting a response.