NHS STAFF will receive free travel on buses throughout Wales over the next three months as a result of Welsh Government funding.

Ken Skates, minister for economy, transport and North Wales, has announced urgent measures to support public transport through the coronavirus pandemic.

The combined support, which is worth up to £69m, will see Transport for Wales receive additional funding support and a hardship fund has been set up to help bus companies as passenger numbers have fallen by up to 90 per cent since members of the public follow the stay-at-home rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: “Demand for public transport has reduced significantly as people are following the new rules to stay at home to save lives and protect our NHS.

“Our rail franchise provider, bus companies and community transport operators – many of which are small businesses and charities – are facing significant financial challenges.

“This support will give public transport operators the initial funding they need to continue to deliver services, pay employees and sub-contractors, while we work with them to develop a comprehensive package of measures to secure an efficient, sustainable, and robust bus network.”

In return for financial support from the Welsh Government, bus companies will need to commit to continue to provide a timetabled service and all NHS staff will receive free travel.

Transport for Wales is already offering free travel for NHS staff on its services.

The Minister has also confirmed that, while the stay-at-home rules are in place, free weekend travel on the Traws Cymru network has been suspended and the Cardiff to Anglesey Public Service Obligation (PSO) air service will also be suspended for three months.

Mr Skates added: “We are committed to creating a sustainable integrated public transport network across Wales.

“But our priority at the moment is to protect the public, people working on public transport and our NHS. We must act now to ensure when the pandemic is over, we will have a bus and rail network to allow us to achieve this ambition.”