Cardiff Airport express bus service to be scaled back after performance reviewPosted: June 10, 2014
By Graham Henry,
An express bus service to Cardiff Airport launched last year is to have its timetable scaled back this winter and in the evenings after a review into its performance, the government has said.
The Cardiff Airport Express service will run every 30 minutes rather than every 20 minutes in the less-busy winter months, after persistent criticism that it was running a “ghost train” service with very few passengers on it.
A review by transport expert Professor Stuart Cole, published in February, found the service has averaged fewer than four passengers a journey since its launch in August 2013.
But Economy Minister Edwina Hart said the service had already exceeded the initial projections on passenger numbers and was beating the already-established rail link to the hub.
However, in her formal response to Prof Cole’s report, she said she would accept recommendations made to revise the service, including the timetable revisions, research to identify passenger markets to grow the service and work to look at where extra stops and changed routes could be introduced.
Mrs Hart said: “This service was introduced in response to public demand and passengers expect a fast, frequent public transport link between the city centre and an airport.
“I am pleased that this report recognises the need for this service. As with any new venture like this, monitoring and evaluation is key and this report is part of that process.
“Professor Cole has made a number of recommendations for improving the service in both the short and long term and I am minded to accept most of them.
“I have already asked the Vale of Glamorgan council to begin the process of tendering for a revised service, to deliver some of those changes.
“I want to see Cardiff Airport thrive and having quality public transport links is vital to that aim.”
But Welsh Conservative leader and regional AM for South Wales Central, Andrew RT Davies, said maintained the T9 service was a “ghost bus” that had been “running empty for months”.
He said: “I am pleased to see these recommendations being implemented – but there is still far more to do.
“Concerns over the service’s subsidy were published earlier this year – when it had already cost the taxpayer a quarter of a million pounds in just four months.
“Labour Ministers produced no strategy to ensure the route was a success and targets are non-existent.
“Communities deserve better and viability must be urgently improved.”
The service – which runs from Cardiff Bus Station and stops at Custom House Street in the city centre and Cardiff Bay to the Rhoose airport – has been criticised by opposition figures for its low passenger numbers, with the report saying it carried on average 2,778 passengers a week since its launch.
It had an estimated annual cost of just under half a million pounds (£470,000).
The service was launched following the government £52m buyout of the hub at the end of 2012, following years of falling passenger numbers and concern over the viability of the airport under the previous Spanish owners.
Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central, Eluned Parrott, said: “I have long called for this bus route and was pleased when the government introduced it – but a bus every 20 minutes was too frequent given the low number of flights and passengers using Cardiff Airport.
“I am confident that the reduced frequency will still attract the same number of passengers as it currently does and I hope, over time, that with more routes from the airport more passengers will begin to use this service.”
Sourced by Wales Online