A presentation from regional local authority heads of transport covered aspirations for the future as well as current transport projects being delivered in Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea.
The presentation, which was given at the Corporate Joint Committee for South West Wales, will help prepare for the development of a regional transport plan once the early ideas have been further explored and detailed guidance from the Welsh Government is made available later this year.
Further partnership work with the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales and transport providers would also take place to identify transport priorities for the region.
When it's developed in detail, opportunities will be made available for local people, local businesses and other organisations across South West Wales to give feedback and help shape the regional transport plan which – subject to approval – would enable bids for funding.
As well as improving rail and bus services, priorities could include further decarbonising the public transport fleet, introducing more electric vehicle charging points, and creating even more high-quality cycling and walking routes. This would help tackle climate change by further cutting the region's carbon footprint.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Corporate Joint Committee for South West Wales, said:
“A huge amount of investment is happening across the Swansea Bay City Region to improve skills and create jobs for local people, but higher quality, better-connected and more frequent bus and rail services are also needed to support this activity.
“Not only would these improvements benefit people of all ages, but they'd also help tackle climate change by encouraging less car journeys and focusing on more decarbonisation of public transport.
“Building on many transport projects already complete or in development in South West Wales, a co-ordinated regional transport plan would help secure funding that could deliver further improvements of this kind. That's why early ideas have been discussed, paving the way for more detailed work alongside transport providers, Transport for Wales and other organisations once Welsh Government guidance is made available in the autumn.”
Cllr Steve Hunt, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said:
“Transport has a major role to play in supporting economic growth across the Swansea Bay City Region, including the valleys and rural areas.
“Many people rely on some form of transport to get to work or school, to access services, and to connect with friends, family and their community. Therefore, the feedback we receive from residents, businesses and community groups will be key to helping us shape what we do when the plans are published.
“The environmental effects of transport are also significant, so we must ensure the plans are developed in line with the region's targets for decarbonisation and reducing air pollution.”
Swansea Bay and West Wales Metro proposals were also discussed at the meeting. Subject to approvals, funding and consultation, they include potential new railway stations at several communities in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, which could follow-on from current work to re-open the railway station at St Clears in Carmarthenshire.
Station improvements are also proposed as part of the metro vision for Neath, Swansea, Llanelli, Carmarthen, Whitland, Haverfordwest and Milford Haven, along with more frequent trains to better connect Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire with Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and beyond.
Other metro aspirations include improved and better-connected bus routes in many parts of the region, both rural and urban.
Cllr Stewart said:
“The establishment of a metro to provide affordable, reliable, integrated public transport options for people living and working in the region is a major priority.
“As well as new railway metro stations, this will include the operation of hydrogen buses, integrated ticketing systems and excellent links with the region's active travel network of walking and cycling routes.”
The South West Wales Corporate Joint Committee is aimed at further driving economic prosperity across the region. It's made up of the Leaders of Carmarthenshire Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, as well as senior representatives of the Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire National Park Authorities.