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As the capital of Wales, you would assume that Cardiff would have a great bus service. However, this is not the case. The constant increase in prices are not justified considering the standard of the service continues to drop.
Services which are particularly unreliable are the 44/45 that go from the town centre to St Mellons and the 30 Service to and from Newport. Firstly, the 44/45 service from the town centre are usually on time, however, the service going back into town is often late, shows up at random times, with no apology. Secondly the service to and from Newport is a joke. When the Newport Bus 30 Service operates, it arrives on time, with the exception of when traffic is particularly bad. However, the Cardiff Bus 30 service has a mind of its own and arrives when it suits the driver. Even when the service is on time, the drivers take a break lasting between 10 and 20 minutes and when questioned about the late service can be quite rude. Overall, I would not recommend the service if an alternative is available.
Cardiff Bus Company is one of only a few bus companies in the United Kingdom that are still municipal in nature, by this I mean wholly owned by the local council, but is held in a separate company as dictated by law. For this reason the company is the biggest bus operator in Cardiff, running routes to all residential areas of the city, as well as other areas such as Penarth, Barry and to the nearby Newport. Cardiff Bus can trace its origins all the way back to 1902 from horse and cart, to trams and then motor vehicles.
Currently Cardiff Bus operator a fleet of 219 buses that has just been modernised in the last couple of years. In the last two years Cardiff Bus has just sold the last of the 25 year old double decker bus; as they were long past their use by date; as these buses had limited suspension, meaning that every time the bus went over a traffic hump you would always come down with a thud. You would also have a scare from riding on the top decker of these older buses because as it went over the traffic humps it would rock from side to side, and would sometimes wonder, would the bus actually tip over? But it never did.
What this has meant is that the whole fleet is now low floors, meaning the bus can be lowered to meet the kerb. This gives greater access for people that have a push chair or have a disability. Within the bus fleet there are three different types of buses that are operated, in the new green and orange colour design.
The first is the single decker bus, these are your standard type bus; but what Cardiff Bus have been doing in the last couple of years is purchasing less polluting vehicles. What this has meant is the single deckers have become more comfortable to travel in and the engine produces less noise.
The second is a new bus brought to Cardiff, although they have operated in other cities such as London for a while now, which are bendy buses. Bendy Buses are extended buses that are single deckers that have double the capacity of a normal single decker. While this may sound appealing, they are not, for a number of reasons. It is very difficult to move in these buses during the rush hour, as they can often be filled to capacity. They are slower than a standard bus, as the driver takes more time manoeuvring the bus. Thirdly if you are driving a car behind a bendy bus, if can be very difficult to pass due to its extremely long length, meaning that is often the cause of congestion when its purpose was to ease congestion. Lastly, because of the layout of the city the bus cannot be used for all areas of the city due the buses long length, meaning this type of bus is contained to a small number of routes, such as from the city centre to Cardiff Bay.
The third is the double decker bus, which I prefer getting on, because if there are kids on the bus you can get away from them, and there is less chance of you having to give up your seat. The number of new double decker buses has increased in the last two years with the retirement of the old fleet. What this has done is made the trip on a double decker more bearable, as for the first time you cannot hear the engine of the bus, as previously if you sat at the back of one of the older buses, the noise was deafening.
In terms of the fare to travel on Cardiff Bus, the structure has just been revised. For an adult a single way trip the price is £1.50, while on a return the company charge £3.00. While the price of a return may seem high, it is an all day pass, this means a person can hop on and off bus all day using the same ticket. While the same applies for a child, the price is reduced to £1 for a single trip and £2 for a day to go. One thing what I do not like about the price structure, is if you want to travel outside of Cardiff the day to go is not valid, as you need to purchase a separate ticket, which costs more due to the large range than needs to be travelled.
A person can also purchase other tickets, such as a weekly ticket, monthly or a yearly ticket. With the single journey, a day to go or a weekly ticket, they can be purchased from the bus driver as you get on the bus. The only different is with the monthly ticket and the yearly ticket, as these can only be purchased from the Cardiff Bus shop, as these tickets need a photo as identity. Although I have never purchased a ticket larger than the day to go, they do offer value for money if you use the bus every day.
One of the criticisms that can be made of Cardiff Bus is the payment policy of the ticket from the bus driver; as the policy operated is a no change one, meaning the correct payment must be made. As I have lived and been brought up in Cardiff this has always seemed normal for me, but when relatives from other cities come and stay, they are a bit surprised at this policy, as it would seem to be unique to only a few places and Cardiff is one of them. Therefore be warned, if you use Cardiff Bus have the correct change on you.
Another problem with Cardiff Bus is its dominance of the public bus transport sector in Cardiff. The problem that this brings is that it pushes other providers out of the market, as was recently described by the competition regulator as 'predatory in nature'. As recently in my area of Cardiff a low budget operator started a service but went bust as Cardiff Bus operated their own low budget buses without their logo on the bus. While this may not seem significant, what it has done is given Cardiff Bus carte blache, to do what every they want, as can be seen by the fares charged. As there is no competition, and because of this there is an almost we can do whatever we want policy from Cardiff Bus, as there is no other alternative.
In terms of the staff, the bus drivers can be a bit hit or miss. Either you get a really pleasant person that will acknowledge you or you get a grump person that gives you a look that says you are more of an annoyance than anything else to them. But saying this, it is the same whenever you come into contact with staff of a company that provides a service.
In terms of time keeping the, the buses operated are normally on time, and this information is helpfully displayed at the majority of bus stops that have shelters, that have an information display that is updated in real time. Although this is a good tool to have it is not always the most reliable, as on some occasions that I have been at the bus stop, the next bus has been displayed and can quickly disappear from the display as you know the bus will not turn up.
Overall the level of service provided by Cardiff Bus is reasonably good, with areas that could be improved. The buses that are used are clean and tidy, while at the same time a quiet and comfortable journey. The majority of the time the buses keep to the timetable, although there is there are exceptions. The areas that could be improved is perhaps the drivers could be a bit more friendlier, but then again you only get on the bus to get from A to B, and not to have a friendly conversation with the driver, so this could be a minor point. One major advantage of Cardiff Bus is the central station is at the heart of the city centre, this means that you can go anywhere in the city centre and the station is conveniently next to Cardiff Central railway station making get from one form of transport to another simple. Although the central bus station is currently going under modernisation and is out of bounds.
Therefore I would recommend using Cardiff Bus if you are in Cardiff and you need transport.