STAGECOACH has announced their Brynmawr bus depot will close this summer, putting 77 jobs at risk and has accused the Welsh Government of being “directly responsible” in the wake of multi-million pound cuts for local bus services.
Stagecoach claims the Welsh Government cut bus service support by 25 per cent last year.
As a result of the cuts, Stagecoach has announced plans to close its Brynmawr depot from July this year. In addition, the company has made a number of service reductions across its network, from July 20 2014, including in Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Last month, the transport minister announced plans to make a £24million cut to the country’s concessionary travel scheme. Stagecoach has since claimed it likely they will mount a legal challenge against the plans unless ministers reverse the decision.
John Gould, managing director of Stagecoach in South Wales, said: “We have warned the Welsh Government for months these misguided cuts would impact severely on people who rely on the bus and on bus workers.
“Ministers’ actions are now directly responsible for potential job losses and placing entire areas at risk of being cut off from bus services. We will keep fighting for the rights of bus passengers in Wales but sadly it is impossible to continue delivering the same level of services for passengers when we are seeing cut after cut in investment in local bus services.
John Gould added: “In the current economic climate, the Welsh Government should be supporting public transport which many people use to access jobs, education, health and leisure facilities. Instead, they have pulled the rug out from underneath the feet of passengers and bus employees.
“The measures we have announced are an absolute last resort and it is with deep regret that we have had to take these decisions.
The company is currently consulting with trade union representatives over the potential impact on jobs.
Unite Wales officer, John Toner called the decision to close the depot “disappointing and distressing news” for their members.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “As yet, Stagecoach has not formally informed Welsh Government of the threatened closure or service cuts.”
Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies said the announcement was "very disappointing news".
He said he was seeking an urgent meeting with Stagecoach to do "all I can to support the company".
He added: "Stagecoach has been an employer in the area for many years and the closure of the depot in Brynmawr would be a great loss to the borough. As I understand, Stagecoach has not formally informed Welsh Government of the threatened closure or service cuts.
"I hope that means there is still a possibility that jobs and services can be saved."
William Graham, assembly member for South East Wales said: “We warned the minster that a new locally funded public transport in Wales was flawed and this is the obvious reaction.
“If they want to improve public transport, then it’s got to be funded.”