Arriva Buses Wales could lose 46 jobs by Christmas
Bus passengers are shocked after learning a large section of the bus network around Aberystwyth is to be scrapped.
A depot in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, and stations in New Quay and Lampeter and Dolgellau could shut on 21 December following a consultation with staff.
That would mean the cancellation of buses 20, 40, 40C, 50, 585 and X94 from the same date.
Arriva Buses Wales blamed public transport funding and fuel costs.
"A recent network review has led us to believe that current services in this area cannot, despite our best efforts, continue," the company said in a statement.
"Due to contractual arrangements service 585 would continue to operate until 15 February 2014. We have notified the local authority of our intentions.
"The proposed closure may unfortunately result in staff losses, and we are currently in consultation with the 46 staff who would be affected."
Drivers were informed on Tuesday morning. Up to 46 jobs could be lost.
Buses hit by cuts plan
- Numbers 20 and 40 call at Cardiff, Swansea, Carmarthen, Lampeter, Aberaeron and Aberystwyth
- Number 50 route travels from Synod Inn to Aberaeron and Aberystwyth
- Route 585 runs from Aberystwyth to Lampeter and bus X94 travels from Wrexham to Dolgellau and Barmouth
- Services 20, 40, 40C, 50 and X94 have been commercially operated since February 2012. The 585 is a tendered service, contracted by Ceredigion.
Ceredigion council said it was not made aware of the possible cuts before the announcement was made and called for changes.
Alun Williams, cabinet member with responsibility for Transport Waste and Carbon Management, said: "This announcement makes a very strong case for re-regulation of bus services and full devolvement of transport to Wales. Although transport is a devolved matter, the laws that govern it unfortunately aren't.
"The best case scenario is that local bus companies, of which there are several and who the council has a very good relationship with, could pick up the routes that are being lost and bus users could actually end up with a better service than Arriva has been providing.
"The county council will certainly be doing everything it can to facilitate this."Concerning
Plaid Cymru AM Elin Jones said she uses the services affected and it was a "complete shock".
"They've given no real opportunity for a seamless transition to other operators for the local authority and Welsh government to plan that appropriately given the minimum amount of warning on this," she said.
"I use these bus services myself and I know they're well used by people in Ceredigion.
"We now need to see the local authority and Welsh government look to retendering these services as quickly as possible so that other local operators can move in hopefully to salvage this service."
Matt Hemsley from of the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said the possible cuts were "concerning" and would hit low-income families.
He said: "Two thirds of households in Wales have only one car or no car available to them.
"Obviously, you've got many students in Aberystwyth and it's difficult for them."
The president of the students' union at Aberystwyth University warned of "bedlam" as a result of the bus cuts.
Ioan Rhys Evans said: "It would have a massively detrimental effect on student life in Aberystwyth."
He said many students without cars would be stranded in Aberystwyth, or face a five-hour train journey to reach areas such as Swansea.
"If you don't have a car then the bus was the easier solution. We obviously feel for the staff who are losing their jobs and it's a massive loss to the community," added Mr Evans.
"It's going to be bedlam getting down to south Wales."
The Welsh government said it was "naturally disappointed" by Arriva's proposal but it was a "commercial matter for the company".
"The Welsh government will be working with the local authorities and passenger groups to consider what appropriate measures might be taken if services are cut," said a spokesperson.