FREE bus travel has been proving a big success in Swansea, council chiefs have said, particular routes serving Gower and the city centre.
All services have been free from Fridays to Mondays inclusive from July 30, with the scheme to run for just one more weekend.
Mum Rose Fowler, of Killay, contacted the council to thank those involved.
“It’s been an absolute godsend for me and my son and saved a fortune, at least £24 a week and that’s just for three journeys,” she said.
“The free bus scheme has really cheered up a lot of people and made a huge difference to our lives.”
The cost of the pilot scheme is being funded by a £20 million pot of money pledged by the council to support residents and the local economy following the worst of the Covid pandemic.
Weekend passenger numbers on New Adventure Travel services to Gower have soared by more than 70% compared to July figures, said the company’s general manager Richard Davies.
“It has been great to see families being able to enjoy exploring the Gower, also making use of the enhanced summer timetable, after what has been a difficult period for everyone,” he said.
First Cymru services have also experienced a huge upsurge.
Cllr Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment enhancement and infrastructure management, said he hoped local businesses had experienced a boost.
He added: “I’m also hopeful that in the long term, public transport will benefit as more people who may have not travelled on a bus before choose to use buses to travel around the city and leave the car at home.”
Sian Griffiths, the owner of Cwm Ivy Cafe and Crafts, Llanmadoc, said it was hard to tell if customers had come down on a bus, but she backed the scheme.
“Definitely it’s a good idea,” she said. “You’re able to see more of the views, and it will encourage people to get out of their cars.
“The traffic is incredibly busy at the moment. The villages are getting quite gridlocked.”
Sue Muddeman, the owner of Bay Bistro, Rhossili, also said it was hard to tell how people had travelled down, adding that this August and last August had been especially busy as more people took a break in the UK than normal.
“I’m sure people have used it (the bus) a lot more,” she said.
Russell Greenslade, chief executive of business group Swansea BID, said he was glad the free travel offer was being taken up so enthusiastically.
“It is more important than ever, at this crucial time for businesses, that we do all we can to support firms in practical and imaginative ways,” he said.
It’s too early to say if the pilot scheme will be repeated or extended.
Council leader Rob Stewart said the public response had been very positive.
“We have heard from many families who have benefited and have had a great summer because of it,” he said.
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