This is Cardiff's long awaited new bus station as it's finally set to open

Inside Cardiff's new bus station which is set to open on Sunday, June 30
-Credit: (Image: WalesOnline/ Rob Browne)

It's been a long time coming, but Cardiff's new bus station is due to open in a matter of days and we've had our first look inside. Cardiff Transport Interchange, located next to Cardiff Central Station in the city centre, will open on Sunday, June 30.

The multi-million pound facility has 14 bus bays, office space, 318 apartments and four retail spaces. Coaches will not be running from the bus station, but Transport for Wales (TfW) is exploring how this service can be delivered in the future. Two businesses look set to move into retail units at the site at the moment, but TfW is still in conversations about the other two remaining spaces.

Cardiff has been without a bus station since 2015 and plans for the new facility, granted planning permission by Cardiff Council in 2018, have suffered a number of setbacks over the years. For more Cardiff news, sign up to our newsletter here.

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It was originally due to be completed by 2022. It was later reported that the building would open in stages, with the first phase opening in spring, 2023. Later projected opening dates were given as late 2023 and spring, 2024. Chief customer and culture officer at TfW, Marie Daly, said: "There has been lots of partners involved in delivering the interchange, from designing it to building it to fit out and now being able to operate with our three bus operators.

"We would have all loved to have been here sooner, but our focus has been an amazing facility, amazing investment and [we] can't wait to open it on Sunday." The TfW official added that she was proud of the facility and that it would play a "really important" part in getting people to choose public transport over using their cars.

Chief customer and culture officer at TfW, Marie Daly
Chief customer and culture officer at TfW, Marie Daly -Credit:Ted Peskett
A bench at the new bus station in Cardiff
Benches at the new bus station have cup holders and charging points -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne
Information screens for passengers
Information screens for passengers -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne

Many people have questioned whether the new bus station will support coach travel. It won't, for the moment anyway - coaches will continue to operate from Sophia Gardens. Ms Daly said: "In terms of coaches, they won't be able to come into the interchange, but there is work ongoing and we are working with various partners to look at how coaches are delivered going forward.

"It is a key part of the integrated transport network, so those conversations are ongoing." A specific date cannot be given yet for when businesses will move into the retail units on site. Ms Daly said one unit should be occupied in the next month and the second could be by August.

The waiting area outside the bus bays at Cardiff Transport Interchange
The waiting area outside the bus bays at Cardiff Transport Interchange -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne
The area that you walk into from the main entrance of the bus station on Central Square
The area that you walk into from the main entrance of the bus station on Central Square -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne

She added: "The units are a big part of this. There are four retail units. We have been working with businesses to make sure that we can create a real vibe and a buzz within the interchange, but also provide customers with the ability to do some shopping on their onward journey or to come and just be in central square and have a coffee. We are about to sign with two businesses and we are still in conversation about the other two units."

Although the bus station will be operational by June 30, it was reported earlier this month that not all the services scheduled to operate from there will be running from this date. Once fully operational, the station will be able to operate 60 services an hour. However, on day one, it will be at about 40% capacity.

The bus bays at Cardiff's new bus station
There are 14 bus bays at Cardiff's new bus station, but coaches won't be running from the site -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne
A man looking at one of the information displays inside Cardiff Transport Interchange
There are a number of information displays at the bus station, including live train times -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne

"That has really been as we start to build our relationship with the bus operators to understand what are the best services that go from here," said Ms Daly. "We are going to do some customer insight across rail and bus to understand actually what is the optimum customer experience and also it gives us the opportunity to embed and understand and to manage that with the operators.

"There is a journey to get us to that full 100% capacity, but we made the decision in line with partners, Cardiff Council, and our bus operators, to start at this capacity and then start to build up in the next couple of months." Inside the station, there are a number of information displays, including live train information. There are also accessible toilets, benches with chargers, water refilling stations and a changing places room.

A water refilling station at Cardiff's new bus station
A water refilling station at Cardiff's new bus station -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne
Toilets at the new bus station in Cardiff
There are a number of toilets, including three accessible toilets -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne

Ms Daly said: "We do a lot of work around behaviour change and customer insight and the biggest barrier to people using transport is actually being able to get their journey quite seamlessly from the start of their journey to the end of the journey. The relationship between this building and Cardiff Central will be seamless. It will operate as one team and as you can see from the customer information boards that are around today we will both have the bus timetable and the rail timetable, making it as integrated as possible."

Last year, a number of bus companies announced that they were making changes to their timetables and cutting some services. Cardiff Bus was one of these operators. At the time, it said it was making the move due to a lack of funding and the continued recovery of bus patronage after the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking on the situation currently, Managing Director of Cardiff Bus, Craig Hampton-Stone, said: "We have continued to see year on year increases over the last couple of years.

Managing Director of Cardiff Bus, Craig Hampton-Stone inside Cardiff Transport Interchange
Managing Director of Cardiff Bus, Craig Hampton-Stone said bus patronage is recovering -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne
The main entrance of Cardiff Transport Interchange
It has taken years for the bus station to be completed -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne

"We have been waiting to see how the dynamics settle down in the post pandemic era, whether or not the hybrid balance has reached its peak now. We are seeing more and more people come back to the office and we are seeing more and more people choose to use the bus service for their commute to get into work."

Mr Hampton-Stone called Cardiff's new bus station an excellent facility and suggested it would play a key part in encouraging bus patronage. He added: "People want an overall quality experience from start to finish. If people are catching the bus from this facility, that is a quality start to their journey, or indeed to the end of their journey if they are coming into the city as well."