New buses from Neath Port Talbot direct to Morriston Hospital start in August
NEW bus services taking Neath and Port Talbot people directly to Morriston Hospital will hit the road this summer.
Health chiefs will be promoting the new bus links among patients, staff and visitors.
Neath Port Talbot Council said the need for them emerged during a consultation following the reduction in transport and bus service grants paid by the Welsh Government to local authorities.
But the announcement comes with a use it or lose it warning as the new services will initially only run for a six-month trial period.
More people from Neath and Port Talbot than ever before are now cared for at Morriston Hospital.
Not only does it provide an A&E service for most of the county, but emergency medical services transferred there from Neath Port Talbot Hospital last summer.
The need for enhanced public transport services has been highlighted numerous times, most recently at public meetings into Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board's Changing For The Better proposals and the wider South Wales Programme.
Neath Port Talbot Council has been consulting on priorities following the cut in its Welsh Government transport funding.
Council head of transport and engineering David Griffiths said: "We have listened to what people told us during the consultation.
"We have been able to introduce these new services from Neath and Port Talbot to Morriston Hospital against a background of a reduction in the grants available.
"It was also important to be able to provide tailored community transport services for our valleys communities to link with others for work, leisure and social opportunities."
The Monday to Friday direct services to Morriston Hospital will start towards the end of August, with the date to be confirmed.
Neath Port Talbot is also providing new community link services on Sundays and bank holidays into Neath from Pontrhydyfen, Pontardawe, Min yr Awel and Banwen.
These will connect with commercial services from Neath to Swansea (156) and Neath to Port Talbot (227), again with the start date to be confirmed later.
"All of these services will operate for a trial period of six months, so it's important that people use the services if they want them to continue," said a council spokesman.
ABMU's head of support services Joanne Jones said: "We are delighted Neath Port Talbot Council is supporting travel and transport arrangements to Morriston Hospital.
"We will work to promote the service to our staff, patients and visitors."