Imminent cut to hospital bus route through Heath to leave elderly and disabled isolated

Residents living on two roads in Heath may face difficulties when the 86 route stops in April

THE SCRAPPING of a bus route through Heath will leave elderly and disabled people stranded, councillors fear.

The 86 route currently runs from the city centre through Gabalfa and Heath – including the hospital – and onto Birchgrove, Llanishen, Lisvane and Thornhill.

The route will stop running on March 30 because Covid-era funding from Welsh Government to support less popular bus routes is coming to an end on April 1. The route is not busy enough to pay for itself without the subsidy.

Losing the route means that residents of Heathway and Maes-Y-Coed roads no longer have a bus stopping on their streets. It will be a five-minute walk to the next nearest bus stop for some residents.

“There is quite a high percentage of elderly people living in the Heath and Rhiwbina areas,” said Heath councillor Graham Hinchey.

“It is not that we think able bodied people can’t walk the five minutes to the other side of Maes-Y-Coed Road, it is the people less able that I am concerned about.

“The passenger numbers are the thing that is driving it, they are going up slightly, but they are not going up to pre-pandemic levels and that means operators do not have the finances to run all routes as they are.

“The UK government need to make bus services a priority when looking towards a greener future.”

Cardiff Bus will be altering its 29 service to replace the part of the 86 route which runs through Lisvane, starting from April.

Heath and Birchgrove Councillors are also pushing to adjust the nearby 101 bus service so that it goes through the affected roads in Heath. However, even if these changes are implemented it would not be until at least May.

The 86 bus service is currently operated by Adventure Travel, previously known as NAT.

“During the pandemic, public bus routes across Wales that became unviable without additional financial support were granted emergency funding from Welsh Government,” said Laura Evans, Marketing and Communications Officer at Adventure Travel.

“Since then, passenger numbers have gradually increased but have not reached pre-Covid levels on many routes.

“From April 1 onwards, the emergency subsidy scheme will be replaced by a series of local authority tenders, for all public bus routes other than those that can operate commercially (i.e. without additional subsidy).”