NEWPORT’S new bus station has finally opened, to a guarded welcome from passengers and traders who described it as “long overdue”.

Expected to cater for between two and three million passengers a year, the new station in Market Square was due to open back in October but delays held it up until December 28.

An investigation has now been launched to determine the cause of the hold-up, which has been attributed variously to design problems and to a delay in receiving a grant from the Welsh Government.

The old bus station on the Kingsway has now closed to make way for a multi-million pound regeneration of the city.

Newport City Council hope to see new shopping centre Friar’s Walk regenerate the city centre after much of the old landscape, including the old bus station, shops in John Frost Square and the old Capitol car park, is demolished.

As part of the new plans, another bus station terminal will open which will be linked to the one next to the indoor market. But traders in the market say delaying the opening for so long means they have missed out on the boost to trade over Christmas. Alex Rimola trades at Fruits of the World opposite the new bus station. He said: “Of course it’s a great relief, as it has been a long time coming. There have been a lot of promises that weren’t fulfilled. It would have been nice to have had it before Christmas, because it did affect our business not having it.”

Butcher Mike Turner welcomed the opening. He said: “It’s great that people can actually get off the bus and on again at the market now. We have been waiting long enough. We were promised it in September by Newport City Council but unfortunately that didn’t happen so we did miss the Christmas trade which we were really relying on, but now it’s here it’s brilliant news. It does give us a bit of hope for the future now it’s back how it used to be years ago.”

Rachel Haines, from Rachel’s Curry Kitchen, said: “People have gone out of business; it has been really tough times for everybody. But we have noticed a lot more footfall with the ticket office coming here.”

Terry Gay, from Negative Zone Comics, says the bus station opening is “long overdue".

"This is two Christmases we have lost now; someone needs to be brought to book.We have heard so many stories about why it was delayed." They have built the Admiral building in a shorter length of time.”

Trader Martyn Hugh, from Ron and Hugh pet supplies, said increased footfall from the bus station outside and ticket office inside the market itself may save traders from having to close in the new year.

He added: “It’s about time. There do seem to be a few more people milling about this morning. It has been like a building site, not a town centre and it wasn’t inviting. This might be a good start for the new year.”

Councillor Ken Critchley, the council’s cabinet member for infrastructure, said prior to the opening: “I appreciate that the delay to its completion has been trying. I have shared that frustration.”