A BUS service in both Ystradgynlais and Pontardawe will be restored after the council was able to retender the contracts.

Due to a drop in funding from Welsh Government, a number of bus services across Neath Port Talbot were reduced or cut completely.

Neath Port Talbot Council has spent the past few months negotiating with transport companies and has given out 42 local bus service contracts, which includes services that were previously stopped or severely reduced.

Among the reinstated bus services are the X6 (Morning) between Ystradgynlais and Swansea Bus Station, and the Service 256 (both Morning and Evening) services between Neath Victoria Gardens and Pontardawe.

Also reinstated are:

·      Service 38 (Sunday) between Swansea Bus Station and Neath Victoria Gardens.

·      Service 81 (Hourly) between Port Talbot Bus Station and Brynbryddan.

·      Service 82 (Hourly) between Port Talbot Bus Station and Sandfields Estate (Golden Avenue).

In total, the 42 contracts awarded by the council are worth £3,086,883.

It comes after passenger numbers have not returned to pre-covid levels for buses, with many down 50 per cent on the figures pre-covid. This is not just in the county, but all across Wales.

The local bus services were supported by the Welsh Government with the Bus Emergency Scheme and later the Bus Transition Fund, but many services were found to be unviable after the funding decreased. This had a negative effect on those who used the services to access healthcare, shopping, work, school or to visit friends and socialise.

The Welsh Government’s funding for across the south west region of Wales – which includes Neath Port Talbot – has been reduced from 10.8m in 2023/24 to 10.06m for 2024/25.

A report by officers read: “Bus services that were previously commercially viable are no longer viable to the bus operators but are socially and economically necessary for many passengers who don’t have access to a car.

“Further, the Bus Transition Fund will cease on 31st March 2024 to be replaced by an alternative grant to support bus services from April 2024 – namely the Bus Network Grant (BNG). The intention thereafter is that all the local bus services which operate in Wales shall either be operated as a commercial service or operated under a new Supported Services Contract by local councils.”

The new model will be a ‘franchising’ model of bus services and will be run by the local councils, Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government under the Bus Bill. The local authorities will be grouped together into a number of franchised areas and all the local authorities in Wales will have to tender for services at the same time and this – due to a shrinking marketplace – means some contracts face the possibility of not being covered.