...By Henry George for TDPel Media.
Residents in Rassau and Garnlydan near Ebbw Vale fear that their public transport options will be limited, affecting their ability to get to work, college, and leave the village after the pilot Fflecsi bus scheme ends in June.
The local direct bus that used to operate in the area has already stopped running.
The Fflecsi bus scheme has been running in the area since June 2021, but it is set to end in June 2023.
Some residents are worried about what they will do for transportation if the Fflecsi service is not extended.
Blaenau Gwent Council stated that they are in talks with Welsh Government and Transport for Wales about possibly continuing the service in some capacity, and they hope to have news about this soon.
Arrangements under Fflecsi allow residents to book a seat on a bus via an app or a telephone number half an hour before their travel time.
Ivor Richards, 79, a resident of Rassau, stated that he drives but may need to use the bus someday.
The mother of two children, who prefers to remain anonymous, expressed her concern, stating that she relies on the Fflecsi bus every day to take her daughter to school, doctor’s appointments and food shops.
Her fear is that they will be left stranded when the scheme ends.
Many residents like Lynne Hole, 76, will become isolated without affordable public transportation.
Ella Challenger, 38, has created a petition to keep buses in the area, stressing that a loss of public transport would be catastrophic for the community, especially the elderly residents who may not be able to afford taxi prices every day.
The current Fflecsi scheme was introduced in Blaenau Gwent to replace routes E2 and E4 and to provide an easier way for people to travel.
However, as the pilot scheme ends, many residents in Rassau and Garnlydan worry about how they will travel if no other transportation services are secured.
A spokesperson from Blaenau Gwent council stated that they are working closely with commercial operators and partners, including Transport for Wales, to develop a robust and sustainable bus network for Wales.
They are lobbying the Welsh Government on the impact of reducing funding for local bus services.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said that Transport for Wales is working with Blaenau Gwent Council to consider options for the future of the service and will be consulting with the local community over the next few weeks.