May 17 2021
Joshua Miles, CPT Cymru Director, writes an analysis of the Welsh election results and what they mean for bus and coach operators going forwards.
Last week the people of Wales went to the polls to elect its representatives to sit in the Senedd, or the Welsh Parliament in English. This was perhaps the most uncertain election we’ve faced yet as a nation with the polls chopping and changing regularly over the past 12 months. However, the result is anything but – with Welsh Labour increasing its vote share and securing 30 of the 60 seats in the Senedd allowing it to govern confidently, and alone.
So what does this mean in practice? Well, firstly its worth considering the big-ticket issues. The Welsh Government under the leadership of First Minister Mark Drakeford has often taken different decisions to those in Westminster in responding to the pandemic, positioning itself as more cautious than Boris Johnson and the UK Government. The election has served as a justification of this approach, and we’ll no doubt see more points of difference emerge in the future.
There was also the question of devolution itself. With polls showing support for Welsh independence rising on the one hand and abolishing the Senedd on the other. The public rejected both and again backed Mark Drakeford’s view of a strong Welsh Parliament in a reformed UK.
So what does this mean for our sector? In short, it means continuity and change. Continuity in that the general sense of direction set out in the previous Welsh Government’s transport strategy Llwybr Newydd will continue. That strategy looks to deliver a step change towards sustainable transport, discouraging car use in favour of public transport and shifting the current 32% of journeys made through sustainable means up to 45% by 2040. The partnership developed with Welsh Government over the last year will be key to delivering this.
But it also means significant change. The Welsh Labour manifesto pledged to introduce new legislation to underpin the bus network, invest in major new bus infrastructure and a reallocation of road space in favour of coaches and buses and the development of new rapid transit routes. It also suggested significant new powers for Transport for Wales and a renewed emphasis on regional transport plans for the four economic regions of Wales.
And let us not forget the other parties. They may not have won the election, but both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be key to ensure the minority Welsh Labour government gets its budgets and legislation passed. So expect to see some of their priorities such as a new Clean Air Act and Low Emission Zones feature heavily in the deal making. Similarly, the Welsh Conservatives now see themselves clearly positioned as the opposition party after making several seat gains.
CPT Cymru will be working with all parties to ensure the next Welsh Parliament is one that understands and supports the bus and coach sector in Wales. Regardless of their manifestos, all parties have the economic and social recovery from Covid-19 at the top of their in-tray. Whilst the situation with the vaccine rollout in Wales is undoubtedly positive, we’ve got a long way to go to rebuild and renew for a proper recovery – and we can only do that working closely with all of those elected during the election last week.