The Welsh Government is giving Vale of Glamorgan and Ceredigion councils 100,000 each, to test better, more efficient ways to co-ordinate conventional bus, community transport and local authority services, including the use of council vehicles to help people access health and social care. .
A further element will evaluate the costs and benefits of discounted travel for young people to access jobs and training.
It comes as some of Wales’ largest bus operators have cut services, blaming a reduction in funding from 213.3m to 189m.
The year-long trials will be evaluated by the Bus Policy Advisory Group, which will advise Transport Minister Edwina Hart [pictured above] on what schemes could be rolled out nationally.
Vale of Glamorgan Council’s remit will include looking at how to encourage more people to use rural bus routes, setting up an online booking system and reducing the costs of services.
New public transport routes to communities around Tregaron will form part of Ceredigion Council’s scheme, as well as using its own vehicles to bolster bus services.
Mrs Hart says: â€œI want to ensure everyone in Wales is able to access jobs and services via reliable public transport. We must start looking at new and innovative ways of delivering these services, particularly in rural areas, by means of a sustainable and efficient network.â€
Ms Hart also announced that the budget for the new Bus Services Support Grant will be 25m for 2014-15, the same as in 2013-14 for the Regional Transport Services Grant, which it replaces. The grant enables local authorities to support socially-necessary bus and community transport services.