Veolia to cut bus services in south and west Wales

Veolia bus at depot The French-owned firm Veolia Transport has depots in mid and south Wales

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One of Wales' biggest bus operators has confirmed it is closing two of its depots which will see many of its services axed across south Wales.

Veolia Transport says the closures at Penclawdd near Swansea and Treforest followed a business review.

But it said other companies will be taking over their routes from June.

Passengers' group Bus Users UK Cymru said it was disappointed and the focus was on whether councils could re-tender the services.

The French-owned firm's chief executive John O'Brien said in March the firm was looking at "restructuring" in Wales.

"Following the recent business review we confirm that our Penclawdd depot on the Gower and our Treforest depot outside Cardiff will both be closing over the next few weeks," a statement on Friday read.

"The schools and local bus services provided from these sites are being taken over by other bus companies."

It said many staff would transfer to the new operators and it was in discussions with workers and the Unite union.

"Our other operating sites at Newport, Abercrave in the Swansea Valley and Crossgates in Powys are unaffected and operations from these sites are continuing as normal," said the statement.

Veolia have not confirmed how many services it is withdrawing, but reports suggest the figure stands at 78.

Rhondda Cynon Taf is understood to be worst affected by the closures as Veolia provides 28 services in the borough.

Services that are partially or wholly subsidised by RCT council will stop at the end of June with commercially-run services stopping on 14 June.

"Discussions with other commercial operators in the county borough continue with existing providers assessing the need to extend existing routes or introduce new ones," said a council spokesman.

Start Quote

The focus will be whether the local authorities will be able to re-tender the services”

End Quote Margaret Everson Bus Users UK Cymru

"A tender process has also begun to secure replacement operators for the services that are wholly or partly subsidised by the Council and were previously operated by Veolia."

Cynon Valley AM Christine Chapman added: "We need to ensure the stability and certainty of services."

'Concerned'

Veolia, which employs 450 people in Wales, will also withdraw from routes in Cardiff, Swansea, Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, and Merthyr Tydfil.

All councils have already made moves to find replacements.

Veolia became one of the main operators in Wales in 2006 when it bought Shamrock Travel which saw it take over operating centres in Abercynon, Swansea, Barry and Newport along with 229 vehicles.

The firm had previously bought south Wales-based firms Bebb Travel and Pullman Coaches.

Many of its services were contracts for local authorities who are having to re-tender their contracts.

In November 2010, Veolia was fined £32,900 and banned from starting any new routes for three months, as punishment for poor bus punctuality in the Cardiff area.

It was also ordered to cut its active fleet from 396 to 277 vehicles.

"People have been concerned for a while," said Margaret Everson from Bus Users UK Cymru.

"We've heard various statements culminating in this one.

"We are disappointed because Veolia bought up several small companies and moulded it into one operation which we thought was a good move at the time.

"The focus now will be whether the local authorities will be able to re-tender the services."

In a separate blow to customers in the Pontypridd and Cardiff areas, St David's Travel could be forced to withdraw bus services soon.

It is appealing against an official decision last month to strip it of its bus operating licence.

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