SWANSEA’S pioneering free bus initiative has been a smash-hit with residents, new figures reveal.
The city’s free bus offer will be making a welcome return for the summer holidays next month, but new official figures show how the initiative has encouraged hundreds of thousands of trips by bus locally.
Council figures show that in its launch summer in 2021 almost 214,000 people took advantage of the offer between July and August. That figure rose to more than 222,000 in the same period the following summer.
And now it’s been confirmed for the weekends of this year’s school summer holidays too, the number of users could climb even higher.
Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said the latest figures show the free bus offer has been an enduring success, welcome by thousands of families struggling to make ends meet in the cost of living crisis.
“We pioneered this initiative to support families and businesses as we emerged from the pandemic. But it has come into its own during the cost-of-living crisis to help so many people make ends meet.
“The response from the public to the free travel offer has been brilliant. We have heard from many families who have benefitted and the feedback shows it’s really made a difference.
“To see getting on for half a million journeys in two summer holiday periods alone just demonstrates how popular and useful it’s been for so many people.
“It’s also helped give a lift to businesses in the city centre and at our coastal destinations.”
He added: “It’s great to see other local authorities across Wales and the UK follow our lead, learn from our experience and come up with initiatives of their own because it means even more people will benefit.”
In the first weeks following its launch in summer 2021, the Swansea free bus initiative saw a surge in bus passengers with operators Adventure Travel witnessing a 70% rise on some of its routes.
Since then the initiative has become a feature of a number of school holidays, supporting families on day outs, tourism and hospitality businesses.
Cllr Andrew Stevens, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure, said the free bus initiative is an incentive to people to leave their cars at home and use public transport more often.
He said: “It’s good news for the environment, helping to reduce pollution and congestion and will encourage people to use public transport even when the free offer is not on.”
This summer’s free bus offer will run on long weekends until 7pm from Friday 28th July until Bank Holiday Monday 28th August. The usual terms will apply which means that journeys have to start and finish within the Swansea Council area.