YOUR AM WRITES: South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar
6:21pm Thursday 24th April 2014 in News
Cuts in funding for bus services will make it harder for people all over Wales to go about their daily lives and will lead to job losses.
It is clear that those hit hardest will be the most vulnerable in our society including the elderly and the disabled.
Cuts in services will make connections with other services more difficult affecting accessibility in towns and cities without direct services.
The impact will particularly fall on rural areas and will reduce access to employment for people who do not have their own transport and who are looking for work.
I am particularly concerned about the effect cuts in bus services may have on the disabled.
Funding for the free bus scheme is to be cut by nearly twenty five million pounds (£25m) over the next three years.
This represents a huge threat to the policy of giving unlimited free bus travel to all disabled people which has been in operation since 2002.
Although no bus operator can refuse to carry a pass holder for free this reduction in payments threatens the profitability of many Welsh bus companies.
Many routes could be put at risk thereby increasing the isolation of disabled people and placing a major obstacle in their wish for independent living.
Disabled people already travel a third less on average than other people.
Nearly two thirds of households containing a disabled person do not have access to a private car.
Forty one per cent (41%) of disabled people in England and Wales say they experience difficulty with travelling.
A large proportion of these mention difficulty in travelling to and from the doctor or hospital, visiting friends or relatives or even travelling to and from their place of work.
Many disabled people are forced to use taxis for easier access.
The proportion of older people making up the population of Wales is increasing.
And the number of people with disabilities is also growing.
Improving bus services not only makes good economic sense by improving accessibility to goods and services.
It makes good sense socially by allowing vulnerable people to live fuller and more satisfying lives.
Local bus services are important to Welsh communities, particularly those in rural areas.
I believe services could be protected if transport funding was spent more effectively than it is at present.
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