LONG term funding support for rural bus services in North Wales is a necessity, according to Janet Finch-Saunders MS for Aberconwy.

She said: “Local residents must be able to travel the full breadth of North Wales while using fully functional and reliable bus services from a range of providers. Buses are the most frequently used method of public transport in Wales and are a daily necessity for many residents in Aberconwy and elsewhere in North Wales.

"The bus companies and their employees, have supported our key workers throughout this pandemic, helped children return to school and will be central to any planned coronavirus recovery.

She added: “From conversations I have had with local transport providers, including Arriva Buses Wales, it is clear a long term funding framework is necessary to safeguard those rural commuter routes that face a potential threat because they have made less money as a direct result of social distancing restrictions.

"Local residents must be able to travel the full breadth of Aberconwy and further afield using reliable bus services from a range of providers. A long term funding framework that considers the concerns of stakeholders would help to maintain such services into the future. Earlier this year I urged the Welsh Government to put the brakes on any further cuts to services by outlining a further funding assistance plan to support operators.

"I am pleased this request has resulted in action from the administration in Cardiff Bay. This funding commitment is essential if we are to prevent the people of North Wales from feeling abandoned and isolated. It promises to ensure that enhanced levels of service can continue for the rest of the financial year, while reduced capacities continues to impact operator ticket revenues. However, if the Welsh Government is serious about using buses to help drive economic activity, and support our nation’s quest to minimise carbon emissions, then an additional and long term funding framework is required.”

Mrs Finch-Saunders' plea followed an announcement the Welsh Government is making available an additional £84.6m of funding to maintain and develop these enhanced levels of service for the rest of the financial year, while reduced demand and capacities significantly affect ticket revenues.

A spokesperson for Arriva Buses Wales said: “We continue to work closely with the Welsh Government and Transport for Wales, contributing to discussions on public transport funding and network development opportunities.”