The local bus industry is at “breaking point” claims a councillor, as multiple changes are set for Wrexham services.

The changes, which will come into effect in late March and early April, are listed in a report to councillors and have been described as “disappointing” by the lead member for environment and transport, Cllr David A Bithell.

The majority of the changes proposed relate to commercial services operated by Arriva Buses Wales and involve a number of service withdrawals, alterations to existing timetables and routing of services.

Cllr Bithell said:”It is disappointing once again to hear of more changes by Arriva Buses Wales to the operation of local bus services in Wrexham.

“These changes are likely to have a significant impact on those residents who rely on these services to access employment and education. The impact is likely to be more significant for those more vulnerable members of our communities for which these services offer a lifeline.

“As these are commercially operated services, the local authority is powerless to intervene, though Arriva has shared the detail of the proposals and discussed with council officers prior to introducing the changes.”

Cllr Bithell added: “The local bus industry is at breaking point, deregulation has not delivered the promise of improved competition and cheaper fares and it’s our residents who are suffering.

“The Welsh Government has been talking about reform of the bus industry for a number of years, but to date we have yet to see any positive action. Intervention from the Welsh Government is needed and its needed quickly in order to arrest the decline in the industry.

“We have had a discussion with Arriva Buses Wales this week concerning the future direction of bus travel in Wrexham, including reduced level of funding which is impacting not only local authorities but also private bus operators. We have agreed to review funding and how we can work with operators such as Arriva to ensure any funding is better used to provide improved bus services that meets the needs of our residents and visitors.”

Michael Morton, managing director of Arriva Buses Wales said: “Services that are being adjusted are not commercially viable and are being modified or withdrawn in order to protect the rest of the Wrexham bus network.

“It is unfortunate that, in recent years, local authority funding for socially necessary bus routes has been cut to the point that Wrexham Council is finding it difficult to provide payments for services that do not make money leaving it to the commercial bus operators to do their best.

“We do not agree that the local bus industry is at breaking point. In recent times, some operators have tried to gain work and volume by running services, either commercially or under contract to local authorities that have, clearly, been below cost and this is the only reason why there are fewer operators than before.

“Free market competition is part of the bus industry in which we find ourselves, as it is in most other industries and those who run efficiently and commercially will always survive.

“Other models, where competition is not the norm, inevitably cost much more as they are publicly funded, whereas more than 90 per cent of an, undoubtedly, excellent network in Wrexham is commercially provided at no cost to the ratepayer. Bus fares in Wrexham have been reduced in recent years especially for regular customers and we have frozen the cost of whole day and weekly tickets for at least the first three months of this year.

“We welcome our regular meetings with Cllr Bithell and Wrexham Council officers and we will continue to work with them to look for better ways of operation including the possibility of high tech demand responsive minibus services.”

Timetable changes are as follows:

Arriva Bus Wales Service 4): Wrexham – Rhos – Penycae. New Timetable from Sunday, March 31. This service will only operate in the morning and afternoon peak hours.

Arriva Bus Wales Service 4B: Wrexham – Rhos – Afoneitha. New Timetable from Sunday, March 31. This service will only operate Monday to Saturday between 0930-1630

Arriva Bus Service 4A: Wrexham – Johnstown – Afoneitha. Route amendment in Johnstown. Service to operate via B5605 main road. Nant Parc and Moreton estates will no longer be served.

Arriva Bus Wales Service 12: Wrexham – Brymbo. New Timetable from Sunday, March 31. 0450hrs service from Brymbo to be withdrawn. 0511hrs and 0535hrs journeys to Brymbo will no longer start at Wrexham Bus Station but will start from New Broughton

Arriva Bus Wales Service 26/27: Wrexham – Mold. New Timetable from Sunday, March 31. All services to become service 27. Route amendment, to serve Mold Road and Old Mold Road. Summerhill Road and Pendine Estate will no longer be served.

Arriva Bus Wales Service 33: Wrexham – Llay. New Timetable from Sunday, March 31. The first departure from Wrexham Bus Station at 0645hrs (Monday-Friday) becomes X33 routing direct to Llay via B5425 (Llay New Road). This journey will not serve the Bradley area on the outbound journey. Evening departures from Wrexham Bus Station (Monday – Saturday) from 1830hrs will become X33 routing direct to Llay via B5425 (Llay New Road). These journeys (except for the last departure at 2245hrs) will not serve Gwersyllt area on the outbound journey.

New Services:

D&G Bus Service 41B: Wrexham – HMP Berwyn. Fully supported service funded through HMP Berwyn development section 106 monies. New Service from Sunday, April 7. The service will provide a Sunday daytime hourly transport link from Wrexham General Rail Station and Wrexham Bus Station to HMP Berwyn

Service Withdrawals:

Arriva Bus Wales Service 42: Wrexham – Hightown. Last day of operation: Saturday, March 30.

Arriva Bus Wales Service 44: Wrexham – Barkers Lane. Last day of operation: Saturday, March 30.

Townlynx Service 28: Flint – Mold – Wrexham. Last day of operation: Saturday, March 30.

Townlynx Service 40: Mold – Wrexham. Saturday, March 30.

Wrexham Taxis Service 47F: New Brighton – Talwrn – Wrexham. Fully supported WCBC service. Last day of operation: Tuesday, March 26.