Only 700 use Rogerstone to Newport Rail Linc bus
ONLY around 700 passengers used the Ebbw Valley railway line bus link in the first few months of its operation, the Argus has learned.
Newport West AM Rosemary Butler said the figures for the Rail Linc bus from Rogerstone to Newport railway station were "extremely disappointing" and reiterated her call for people to use or lose the service.
Welsh Government officials are using the pilot service to test demand for a permanent passenger rail link between Ebbw Vale and Newport which the Argus has campaigned for for many years.
According to the figures obtained from Rosemary Butler's office 705 passengers used the service between January 23 and May 5.
The busiest week was the week ending April 28, when 81 people used the service.
Ms Butler said: "These figures are extremely disappointing and the take-up of this service has not been as high as we had hoped."
She said it was important the pilot scheme was publicised extensively and she welcomed a planned marketing campaign.
"The minister and I are committed to making this scheme a success, and I urge passengers to use it or lose it," she said.
Councillor Ken Critchley, cabinet member for infrastructure, said a marketing campaign is being launched next month to raise awareness of the service.
He said the city council still wants a passenger link opened up to the city centre and that the pilot service is just one element in assessing the need for restarting trains between Ebbw Vale and Newport.
But he added: "I would encourage people to use rail link bus as this would help towards the already strong case for reopening the line."
The Newport council-contracted service, which received £119,000 in funding from the Welsh Government for a 12-month pilot, is timed to connect with trains at Rogerstone.
A previous bus link in 2008 was axed as few people used it.