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Swansea 'ftr' delayed to 2009

Swansea 'ftr' delayed to 2009 First anounces delay to its third 'ftr' service.

AFTER a troubled start for its ‘ftr’ service in York, and a phased introduction for the service in Leeds where StreetCars operated alongside conventional buses, First has announced that its third ‘ftr’ service, which was to have started in Swansea in late 2008, has been delayed. It will now start in April 2009.

"We don’t consider this to be a huge delay given it is part of a major £10million infrastructure development," says Justin Davies, managing director of First Swansea Bus.

Work starts in the city this month on the second phase of road improvements in readiness for ‘ftr’ and these will continue until April 2008. The ten vehicles for the Swansea service – dubbed Swansea Metro – are nearing completion at Wrightbus. First was this week unable to say what would be happening to the vehicles between now and 2009.

The plans for the second phase include replacing a roundabout with traffic signals and new pedestrian crossings. A short section of busway is to be constructed next to County Hall, including two stations to serve the new Civic Centre.

Although there has been some local opposition to the project, John Hague, Swansea council's cabinet member for environment, says: "The Swansea Metro will transform public transport in Swansea. It will provide a fast, friendly and efficient transport link from Morriston Hospital to a number of key locations through to Mumbles. It will encourage people out of their cars which will help to relieve traffic congestion and the pollution caused by cars."

And a recent demonstration of a Wrightbus StreetCar in the city won acclaim from traders invited to travel on the vehicle. Nigel Griffiths, of city-based business Burgess Travel, said that roadworks to accommodate the service had been an inconvenience but added: "People should give the Swansea Metro a chance instead of being critical of it."

www.firstgroup.com