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Monday, February 27, 2012

Transport of choice

The Welsh Government comes under attack this morning for getting its priorities wrong over transport in Wales. Opposition parties have quite rightly pointed out that paying £160 subsidy per passenger on North-South flights, while bus services face the axe for consuming more than £2 subsidy per passenger is unsustainable:

The Welsh Government says it has to cut bus funding in April because its transport budget is under pressure, but it will continue paying £1.6m a year for the flights between Holyhead and Barry.

The air service carried just 10,000 passenger journeys last year – compared with 114 million on Welsh buses.

Also protected from cuts is the £1.7m annual subsidy for the additional Holyhead-Cardiff train which includes a restaurant car and a travelling chef, who cooks complimentary breakfast or dinner for first-class passengers.

One veteran bus manager promised to eat his hat outside the Senedd if the Welsh Government could justify its funding choices. One bus operator last night likened the situation to the NHS prioritising “boob jobs and buttock lifts” over cancer treatment.

As Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson, Eluned Parrott says: “We all know that difficult choices have to be made in these tough economic times. I would hope that with hindsight even the Welsh Labour Government would accept that it has had the wrong transport spending priorities.

“It’s a scandal that the Welsh Government are forking out £160 per passenger on flights, while at the same time punishing the most vulnerable in our society by scaling back on bus subsidies.”

… and in so doing turning a blind-eye against the follow-on harm being done to Welsh youth?
It's a question of volume isn't it. How many of the 114 miilion passenger journeys by bus come into the "£2 subsidy" category. Even if it's a tiny percentage, it's still more than £1.6 miilon. If the air travel subsidy is abandoned, it still doesn't spread very far over 114 million passenger journeys.
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