(Title Image: Wales Online)
On 24th July 2019, the Welsh Government announced that following a public consultation on a white paper, bus services will be re-regulated via a new Public Transport Bill due to be introduced during the 2019-20 term.
One of the headline policy changes will be that the age of eligibility for free bus passes will rise from 60 to the state pension age – currently 65, but set to be 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2039.
The Bill, when introduced, will also give local authorities more powers over the management of local bus services and will assist the roll-out of a smart card ticketing scheme across all forms of public transport.
However, the Welsh Government have decided not to pursue a new taxi licensing regime as it still requires additional detailed work and the English Department of Transport are considering changes to taxi regulation which could be extended to Wales if deemed appropriate to do so.
The Older People’s Commissioner, Heléna Herklots, expressed concern at the proposals in light of bus cuts, telling BBC Wales:”Many bus services in Wales have been lost in recent years, with many more currently under threat, and a reduction in the number of users on less popular routes, many of whom will be older people, is likely to further exacerbate this.”