Update on The Welcome Ticket

On 7 March, Wales’ Social Justice Minister, Jane Hutt MS, announced the end of the Welcome Ticket scheme on 31 March 2024. Her full statement can be accessed here.

The Welsh Government set up the Welcome Ticket scheme in March 2022. The scheme has provided free transport to all refugees living in Wales, including Ukrainians, evacuated Afghans, and Hong Kong British National Overseas visa holders. This scheme was incredibly helpful for thousands of refugees as they began to navigate Wales shortly after their arrival.

The scheme was part of the Bus Emergency Scheme and then the Bus Transition Fund, both established to provide post-pandemic support to the bus industry. This funding package is due to end on 31 March. As a result, the Welsh Government has decided to end the Welcome Ticket scheme in its current format from that date. Bus operators and Transport for Wales will no longer be required to provide free transport to refugees from 1 April.

The Minister’s promise at the end of the statement gives us hope: “We will work closely with travel operators, local authorities, the third sector and sanctuary seekers, during the development of this new phase of the scheme. I expect to be able to provide a further update during the summer.”

Research has shown that access to free or low-cost public transport can be a lifeline not just for sanctuary seekers, but for all low-income groups. We look forward to hearing the Minister’s update and we will be happy to share our clients’ experiences with Welsh Government as it plans the future of this scheme.