FIRST CYMRU UPDATE
Our valley communities in particular have been affected, especially places like #Bettws and the Ogmore valley where services have been withdrawn and people have been left unable to get to work or training, medical appointments, or to meet friends and family.
Last week we met virtually with the Managing Director of First Cymru Buses Ltd. to discuss these issues, and to ascertain how they can be resolved as quickly as possible.
On Services First Cymru made clear that they themselves are disappointed that their service is not what it should be. The over-riding reason is that they continue to be extremely badly affected by driver shortages, as is the case with many bus operators across Wales and the UK.
This is also not just a Bridgend issue, as has been widely misreported in the media. They have explained that the shortages are due to a combination of factors which include fierce recruitment competition with other employment sectors (including HGV driving – which is also facing driver shortages), and less confidence amongst drivers in job security due to falling passenger numbers (down 45% since Covid) and covid-related service cuts. The above issues combined are directly affecting their ability to run a full set of services.
On Driver Recruitment First Cymru have however recruited new drivers, some of whom will start in the next few weeks. They have also enhanced their recruitment plans by doubling the resources to train more people. However, the process of recruiting and training drivers normally takes around 3 months compared to the 1 week notice a driver needs to give to leave their job, so this will not be a simple overnight fix.
If you are interested in employment as a First Bus driver, they have shared this link to their job opportunities including those in Port Talbot and South Wales Careers | First Bus and to their specific Bridgend Recruitment here FirstGroup Careers.
Our more isolated communities We have strongly urged First Cymru to focus on the more isolated communities in Ogmore where there is a greater reliance on public transport and reduced car usage, so as to avoid situations where people are left at the bus stop waiting hours between buses at critical times while other more central routes have several services each hour. This is vital for people getting to work and to key medical appointments. First Cymru have taken these points on board and may seek to adjust some services accordingly.
We will continue to work with First Cymru to try and increase the frequency of services, especially so in our more isolated communities.
As ever, we will endeavour to update constituents on any future developments with First Cymru.