The Welsh Government has announced an additional £10m to help the country’s bus industry.
It said the new academic term will see a significant increase in the number of children, young people and parents relying on bus services.
The new cash is to help operators manage the increased pressure on scheduled bus services, recognising that social distancing measures mean reduced capacity and significantly affected ticket revenue.
The Welsh Government said the cash will enable operators to increase the number of buses available while also helping to cover costs associated with additional staffing, fuel and maintenance of the bus fleet.
Dolgellau, North Wales
Deputy minister for economy and transport Lee Waters said: ‘This additional £10m will enable local authorities and operators to determine and deliver the additional services needed to support learners to safely return to school and college. It will also enable bus users who cannot work from home to return to the workplace in a safe manner.
‘We recognise that this is a very challenging time for our bus operators and we will continue working closely with them and do all we can to support them at this difficult time.’
The Welsh Government has also updated its operational guidance for schools, which includes guidance on transport, catering arrangements and revised shielding and ‘Test, Trace Protect’ guidance. A workforce risk assessment toolkit has also been included.
It said the new guidance was published so that local authorities and bus operators are clear on the steps they must take to ensure that from September children and young people can travel safely to school and college.
Education minister Kirsty Williams said: ‘This guidance has been updated to take into consideration the most up-to-date public health advice to enable local authorities, schools and colleges to plan for the safe return of students and staff in September.
‘It has been my priority for learners and staff to return to schools and colleges as soon as we were assured it was safe to do so, for the benefit of their educational and well-being needs. I would like to once again thank staff for all their hard work in making this possible.’
Confederation of Passenger Transport Cymru director John Pockett said: 'We welcome this funding from the Welsh Government which follows our negotiations with them.
‘We also welcome the guidance from Welsh Government regarding the return of school transport operations, and recognise the hard work of all involved in its formulation during what has been a worrying time for all concerned and we will continue to work in partnership with all stakeholders to ensure the safe transport of pupils.’
Last week the Scottish Government approved additional expenditure of up to £63m to support bus operators until 8 November.