Early ideas on potential improvements to rail and bus services for passengers across the Swansea Bay City area were discussed.
A presentation from regional local authority transport officials covered aspirations for the future as well as ongoing transport projects in Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea.
The presentation, which was given to the Corporate Joint Committee for South West Wales, will help prepare for the development of a regional transport plan once initial ideas have been explored further and detailed guidelines from the Welsh Government will be available later this year.
Further partnership work with the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales and transport providers would also take place to identify transport priorities for the region.
When developed in detail, opportunities will be provided for local people, local businesses and other organizations in South West Wales to provide input and help shape the regional transport plan which, subject to of approval, would allow financing offers.
As well as improving rail and bus services, priorities could include further decarbonising the public transport fleet, introducing more charging points for electric vehicles and creating even more cycle routes. and pedestrians of high quality. This would help combat climate change by further reducing the region’s carbon footprint.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Corporate Joint Committee for South West Wales, said: “A huge amount of investment is underway in the Swansea Bay City area to improve skills and create jobs for locals, but better, better connected and more frequent bus and train services are also needed. to support this activity.
“Not only would these improvements benefit people of all ages, they would also help fight climate change by encouraging fewer car journeys and focusing on further decarbonising public transport.
“Building on the many transport projects already completed or under development in South West Wales, a coordinated regional transport plan would help secure funding which could deliver further such improvements. That’s why early ideas have been discussed, paving the way for more detailed work alongside transport providers, Transport for Wales and other organizations once guidance from the Welsh Government becomes available in the autumn.
Cllr Steve Hunt, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “Transport has a major role to play in supporting economic growth in the Swansea Bay City area, including the valleys and rural areas.
“Many people rely on some form of transportation to get to work or school, to access services, and to connect with friends, family, and community. Therefore, the feedback we receive from residents, businesses and community groups will be essential in helping us shape what we do when the plans are released.
“The environmental effects of transport are also significant, so we need to ensure plans are made in line with the region’s goals for decarbonisation and reduced air pollution.”
Swansea Bay and West Wales Metro proposals were also discussed at the meeting. Subject to approvals, funding and consultation, they include potential new rail stations in several communities in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, which could follow on from ongoing work to reopen St Clears rail station in Carmarthenshire.
Station improvements are also proposed as part of the Tube vision for Neath, Swansea, Llanelli, Carmarthen, Whitland, Haverfordwest and Milford Haven, as well as more frequent trains to better link Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire to Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and beyond.
Other metro aspirations include improved and better connected bus routes in many parts of the region, both rural and urban.
Client Stewart said: “The establishment of a metro to provide affordable, reliable and integrated public transport options for people living and working in the region is a major priority.
“As well as new rail metro stations, this will include hydrogen bus operations, integrated ticketing systems and excellent connections to the region’s active travel network of walking and cycling routes.”
The South West Wales Joint Enterprise Council aims to further stimulate economic prosperity in the region. It is made up of the leaders of Carmarthenshire Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, as well as senior representatives from the Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire National Park authorities.