Examining the Airport Express bus and public transport in the Vale of Glamorgan

South Wales Echo have raised the issue of lack of demand for the new Airport Express bus service running from Cardiff to Cardiff Airport.

[…]The Echo rode the Airport Express – which runs every 20 minutes, seven days a week between 5am and 11.40pm – several times last week, right during the peak holiday season.

On half of the journeys we made the bus was empty, while on the other occasions our reporter travelled with just one or two passengers.

In total, out of our six journeys, only four people used the service. This equates to an average of 0.66 passengers per journey. […]

The bus service is less than a fortnight old. As local Assembly Member Eluned Parrott points out in the South Wales Echo piece, it was speedily introduced and has not been widely promoted as yet. Word is only just starting to get out about its existence. Holidaymakers using the Airport this month will have already made their local transport choices and plans. It’s therefore possibly a little premature to be assessing the long-term value of the bus to holidaymakers.

But while we at the campaign to Stop The Spur and Protect The Vale Line wish the Airport Express bus all the very best, this lack of demand is not a shock. The tough reality is that the Airport itself doesn’t generate the passenger numbers to merit any form of local public transport support. Research has shown that it is only new routes and services that are likely to revive the Airport.

In terms of usage, this bus is still a better bet than the rail spur – as proposed in the defunct LDP from the previous council administration. Imagine the gargantuan cost that that would have involved for these low levels of demand, levels which we predicted on this website in March 2012.

What does need support and resource – and we’ve been saying this for a while – are the local commuter services, which include buses and of course the Vale of Glamorgan line services. The commuter trains are already very full.

So when will the Vale line begin to run half-hourly services, we wonder?