ELECTRIC buses could be taking passengers on a rural service between Carmarthen, Lampeter and Aberystwyth by the end of next year.

The Welsh Government has given Carmarthenshire Council £4.8 million to build a new depot in Carmarthen and buy eight electric buses.

The 48-mile route between the three towns is currently served by bus operator First Cymru.

The county council has now applied for planning permission for the depot, including charging points for the eight buses, at the existing park and ride station on Llysonnen Road, around two miles west of Carmarthen town centre. Other locations were considered.

The timber-clad depot would include a meeting room, office, staff toilets and a shower.

The Welsh Government said it expected the depot and electric buses to be operational in late 2022.

It added that they would be made available to the operator who was awarded the contract to operate the service. The existing contract with First Cymru for the Traws Cymru T1 service is due to expire next autumn.

A Welsh Government spokesman said the diesel buses currently used on the route will be retired at that time.

Carmarthenshire Council’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Hazel Evans, said: “We are working with the Welsh Government and Transport for Wales on a potential project to use electric buses on the current Carmarthen to Aberystwyth service.

“It is in the early stages of development and is subject to the planning application process.”

The Welsh Government wants Wales to be net zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2050, if not sooner, with clean buses, trains and cars playing their part.