BETTER public transport links across Swansea and neighbouring authorities are to be explored as part of a metro-style project for the region.
Senior representatives from Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, and Pembrokeshire councils will develop the first stage of proposals to take the Swansea Bay Metro idea forward.
The focus will be on a better-connected rail and bus system, with consideration also given to road infrastructure, cycling and walking.
The work is being taken forward by the Swansea Bay City Region, although transport is not one of its defined city deal projects.
Firm proposals are expected to be published and signed off by the city region’s ruling joint committee by the end of March 2020.
A report before the joint committee described transport as a “vitally important adjunct” to the £1.3bn city deal.
It’s an evolving area though, with new transport legislation being drafted in Wales and more powers on rail likely to be devolved from the UK Government.
The joint committee report said: “Informal contacts with the Welsh Government suggest that the basic approach would be for the region to define strategic priorities and (rail operator) Transport for Wales to act as the delivery arm.”
Although not mentioned in the report, traffic along the M4 in Wales is set to increase by nearly 40% over the next 30 years, according to the Department for Transport.
The busiest stretch is currently between Newport and Cardiff, but the biggest rise in traffic in the past 17 years has been west of Swansea, near Penllergaer.
The UK Government has offered to create a £20m West Wales Parkway station at Felindre, north of Swansea, which would cut journey times between Cardiff and Carmarthen.
Speaking after the joint committee meeting on October 29, its chairman Councillor Rob Stewart said of the parkway offer: “Improvements of this kind are welcome in principle, but they must form part of a regional public transport solution.
“It’s also crucial that this proposal doesn’t impact on the regularity of services into stations like Swansea and Neath.”