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Friday, August 24, 2007

Important Gower Explorer bus information

Please note that First Cymru tickets are no longer valid on any Gower service operated by Pullman/Veolia Cymru. The two companies have fallen out yet again. It's a pathetic, farcical situation, which has arisen at the height of the holiday season. If you get on a Gower Explorer bus with a First Cymru ticket, you will be turfed off at Upper Killay. Please also note that if you travel to Pennard on a First Cymru bus, intending to return in the evening, you will have to buy two single tickets. The last First Cymru bus of the day from Pennard Cliffs is at 17.34. The evening service is operated by Pullman/Veolia.

You can still use First Cymru tickets on council-tendered services operated by Veolia. These services include:

8/9 Cwmdonkin circular.
10 Quadrant - Northill - Quadrant.
144/145 Swansea - Morriston Hospital - Swansea.
146 Bonymaen - Morriston Hospital - Bonymaen.

I'm not sure about some of Veolia's other services, but will post news here as soon as I hear it. The main issue is the lack of interavailability between First Cymru and Veolia tickets on the Gower route. I've no idea what the dispute is about, or whose fault it is, I've just heard it from a bus driver.

Another issue to be aware of, for regular users of Pullman/Veolia services, is that drivers are planning a work to rule, which may disrupt weekend and evening services. It's not definite yet - the drivers are due to submit a petition demanding better pay and conditions, in line with those enjoyed by First Cymru drivers. My source tells me that if demands are not met, a work to rule will ensue.

Personally, I wish the council had never given Pullman/Veolia the Gower service contract. As they were going to invest in new vehicles and an extended service anyway, why not simply retain First Cymru as the service provider? I guess Pullman were cheaper from the outset.

Sadly, if this preposterous bickering between the two companies continues, it will hit visitor numbers to Gower. I have met several people in the last couple of weeks, who are not prepared to pay two different bus operators, in order to get to Gower. In some instances locals and tourists would have to pay up to £3.80 for a First Cymru day ticket, then £3.60 for a Veolia ticket, amounting to £7.40 per adult. For just 30p more, it's possible to get a return train ticket to Cardiff, with a PlusBus ticket which allows all day travel in Cardiff, including Cardiff Bay, Penarth and St. Fagan's. Unless this rift between First and Veolia is healed quickly, visitor numbers to Gower may well be harmed, especially if it continues into successive holiday seasons.

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