A Welsh charity has welcomed a Welsh Government U-turn over the future of a community transport funding programme.
Funding for the Community Transport Concessionary Fares Initiative – which comprises 15 community transport pilot schemes, was due to end in March.
But Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant AM, this afternoon told the Cross-Party Group on Older People and Ageing that funding for the programme will continue past March 2012 whilst an evaluation of individual schemes is conducted.
Age Cymru’s Head of Public Affairs and Policy, Graeme Francis, says:
“Ahead of today’s meeting of the Cross Party Group on Older People and Ageing, we were very concerned that the Community Transport Concessionary Fares Initiative was being wound up in March, possibly signalling the end for some schemes.
“We were very happy to hear the announcement from the Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant AM, today that the scheme will continue.
“The Welsh Government’s commitment to keep funding 15 pilot schemes in the Community Transport Concessionary Fares Initiative (CTCFI) during an evaluation is a significant step forward from the situation we were facing this morning.
“Nevertheless, the Welsh Government does now need to take steps to end the uncertainty for the staff and users of community transport schemes across Wales.
"A further commitment is needed to extending the concessionary travel scheme to all community transport providers across Wales.”
Age Cymru is calling for:
• The Welsh Government to develop a fully integrated public transport to address the needs of people who don’t have a car;
• The Welsh Government to prioritise transport services for older people who cannot access bus services due to geography or disability;
• The Welsh Government to clarify its long-term plans for concessionary fares on community transport;
The Cross-Party Group on Older People and Ageing met at the Senedd at lunchtime on 9 February.
The Minster for Local Government and Communities provided a letter to Chair Mike Hedges AM announcing his intention to continue funding the schemes during an evaluation.