A FREE bus travel offer launched this summer by Swansea Council has led to thousands of people visiting popular parts of the city including Gower and the city centre.

Latest statistics on passenger numbers provided to the Council by bus operators have illustrated a massive surge in passenger numbers across many routes.

Journeys to and from Gower on the first weekend increased by 65% as many families enjoyed a day trip to the many beaches on offer.

Passenger numbers across services provided by First Cymru have also doubled.

The free travel offer was launched in July as part of the Council’s £20million recovery plan to help boost the local economy and support families following the pandemic.

Rob Stewart, council leader, said “The impact of the pandemic has had a serious impact on families and local businesses who have struggled financially.

“The recovery plan we developed has been designed to help the city get back on its feet and the free bus offer has been a fantastic way to support everyone during the summer holidays.

“The response from the public to the free travel offer has been brilliant. We have heard from many families who have benefitted and have had a great summer because of it.”

Richard Davies, General Manager for New Adventure Travel, said: “We have seen significant increase in the number of customers using both our local Swansea routes as well as our network of bus routes serving the Gower during the free travel period.

“It has been great to see families being able to enjoy exploring the Gower, also making use of the enhanced summer timetable, after what has been a difficult period for everyone.  Over the 4 weekends of the free scheme so far, we have seen over 70% more customers using the Gower services than the corresponding 4 weekends in July.”

One such family is Rose Fowler from Killay who contacted the council, thanking everyone for the difference it has made. Rose, said “It’s been an absolute godsend for me and my son and saved a fortune, at least £24 a week and that’s just for three journeys.

“The free bus scheme has really cheered up a lot of people and made a huge difference to our lives.”

The free offer is set to run for one more weekend (27 – 30 Aug) and the public is being urged to make the most of it and enjoy the end of summer before children go back to school.

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment Enhancement & Infrastructure Management, said: “We hope families will make the most of the bank holiday weekend coming up and continue to use the free bus offer.

“Many will have already saved money from travelling around Swansea for free and hopefully that has meant that local businesses have also seen a boost to their services as a result of more people out and about.

“I’m also hopeful that in the long term, public transport will benefit as more people who may have not travelled on a bus before choose to use buses to travel around the city and leave the car at home.”

Russell Greenslade, Swansea BID (Business Improvement District) Chief Executive, said: ‘We are pleased to see Swansea Council’s very generous free bus offer being taken up so enthusiastically. It is more important than ever, at this crucial time for businesses, that we do all we can to support firms in practical and imaginative ways, and to remind consumers and visitors that their city centre is open and is offering unique and enticing experiences.

“The free bus service has been a great way of getting this message out there and we would like to thank Swansea Council for pressing ahead with this initiative.”