Transport in Cardiff

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Transport in Cardiff, capital and most populous city in Wales involves road, rail, bus, water and air. It is a major city of the United Kingdom and a centre of employment, government, retail, business, culture, media, sport and higher education.

Welsh Government statistics for 2008/09 showed that Cardiff had the lowest percentage of the population who travelled to work by car, van or minibus, suggesting the highest public transport usage to work out of all 22 local authorities in Wales.[1]

Between 2008 and 2009, car and taxi usage dropped from 59.7% to 52.3%, while walking was up by 1.4% to 18.3%. For bus usage, the figure had risen by 3% to 15.5% and cycling use increased from 1.6% to 7.4%. Train usage also rose from 3.8% to 4.7% over the same period.[2]


The M4 motorway connects Cardiff to towns and other cities in Britain. To the east: Newport, Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Reading and terminating at London. To the west: Bridgend, Swansea, Llanelli and terminating near Carmarthen. It is part of the unsigned European route E30. Cardiff can be accessed directly from junctions 29 – 34 inclusive:


M4 motorway
Eastbound exits Junction Westbound exits
No access J29 Cardiff East and South A48(M)
Cardiff East A4232 J30
Cardiff Gate services
Cardiff East A4232
Cardiff North, Merthyr Tydfil A470 J32 Cardiff North, Merthyr Tydfil A470
Cardiff West, Cardiff International Airport, Barry, Penarth A4232 J33
Cardiff West services
Cardiff West, Cardiff International Airport, Barry, Penarth A4232
Llantrisant, Rhondda, Cardiff Northwest A4119 J34 Pendoylan, Cardiff West, to the A48
A48 (M) motorway
Eastbound exits Junction/Interchange Westbound exits
Newport, Chepstow,
London M4
M4 J29 Start of A48(M)
Start of A48(M) J29A No exit
Eastbound exits Junction Westbound exits
St Mellons A48 J29A Start of A48
Bridgend (M4), Pontprennau,
Cardiff Gate A4232
Pentwyn Interchange Bridgend (M4), Pontprennau,
Cardiff Gate A4232
Pentwyn Llanrumney Interchange Pentwyn
Cardiff East, Docks, Cardiff Bay A4232 Llanedeyrn Interchange Cardiff East, Docks, Cardiff Bay A4232
Access only UHW University Hospital
(M4 West), University Hospital, City Centre A470 Gabalfa Interchange City Centre, (M4) A470
Start of permanent dual carriageway Road continues as mostly single carriageway
Llantrisant A4119 Road junction City Centre, Llantrisant A4119
Fairwater, St Fagans, Pentrebaine B4488 Road junction Fairwater, St Fagans, Pentrebaine B4488
City Centre, Cardiff Bay A4161 Roundabout City Centre, Cardiff Bay A4161
St Fagans Road junction St Fagans
City Centre, Penarth A4232
Barry A4055
(M4), Newport, Bridgend A4232
Culverhouse Cross
City Centre, Penarth A4232
Barry A4055
(M4), Newport, Bridgend A4232
Start of A48 End of A48

The A48(M) motorway connects Junction 29 to the city centre with exits for the Cardiff suburbs of St. Mellons (westbound only), where it becomes the A48, Pontprennau (M4 junction 30 via the A4232), Pentwyn, Rumney, Llanedeyrn and also for the University Hospital of Wales.

The Peripheral Distributor Road (A4232) Ely Link Road

The A4232 (also known as the Peripheral Distributor Road) connects M4 junction 33 with junction 30 by bypassing through the south of the city. From junction 33, exits are at Culverhouse Cross Interchange, Leckwith Interchange, Ferry Road Interchange (for Barry and Penarth) and Butetown, the road ends at Queen's Gate Roundabout, where the long-awaited Eastern Bay Link Road will eventually link with the Southern Way Link Road. It then goes onto the M4 at junction 30 via the A48 (Eastern Avenue) and the Pentwyn Link Road (A4232).

The A470 road is the main North – South Wales route running from Cardiff Bay to Llandudno via exits for the suburbs of Tongwynlais and Taff's Well. The A470 is a major road within the city that provides an important link with the Heads of the Valleys road, Mid and North Wales.

As with many other cities car traffic has caused congestion problems and as such the council has designated bus lanes to improve transport into and out of the city centre. The Welsh Assembly Government is considering the introduction of variable congestion charging in the city centre, but only once there has been significant investment in the city's public transport network.[3]

There are several road and rail bridges that cross the River Taff in Cardiff. These include the Clarence Road Bridge, a comparatively modern bridge which replaced a swing bridge. The original bridge was named after the Duke of Clarence.

Much of Cardiff's central shopping zone is pedestrianised, and further pedestrianisation is planned as part of the current St David's 2 regeneration scheme.


Railway lines in Cardiff
To Rhymney
To Coryton
Heath Low Level/High Level
To Pontypridd
Waun-Gron Park
To Bridgend
Cardiff Queen Street
To Newport and England
Ninian Park
Cardiff Central
Cardiff Riverside
Canal Parade goods depot
Bute West docks
Bute East docks (Atlantic Wharf)
East Moors depot
Cardiff Bay
Roath docks
Cardiff Bay quayside
Queen Alexandra docks
Penarth Flats docks
Penarth Moors docks
To Barry and Rhoose Cardiff Airport
To Penarth

The largest stations in Cardiff (and Wales) are Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street which over 10 million people use each year.[4] They are both operated by Transport for Wales and controlled by ticket barriers.


Cardiff Central is the 10th busiest station in the United Kingdom outside London with eight platforms.[4] Cardiff Central is situated on the South Wales Main Line providing national services while Cardiff Queen Street station is the hub of the Valley Lines suburban rail network (See Below).

Central station provides regular services to London Paddington via Bristol Parkway, with other links to Swansea and West Wales on the South Wales Main Line while other national services connect Cardiff with Bristol Temple Meads, Birmingham New Street, Nottingham, Manchester Piccadilly, Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour.

Improvements to the north-south Wales rail networkwere introduced in 2010 and there are now services every two hours that connect Wrexham General, Llandudno and Holyhead in North Wales to Cardiff in the south.

Suburban rail[edit]

Cardiff has an urban rail metro network operated by Transport for Wales known as Valley Lines. With Cardiff Central and Queen Street as the hubs, it connects Cardiff's northern, southern and western suburbs to the city centre. There are eight lines that connect Central and Queen Street stations to 20 smaller stations in the city, 26 in the wider urban area (including Taffs Well, Penarth and Dinas Powys) and more than 60 in the South Wales valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan.[5] The council is investigating converting the Cardiff City Line, Coryton Line and Butetown Branch Line into light rail lines and extending them in the near future.[6]


Cardiff has a comprehensive bus network, with council-owned Cardiff Bus providing the vast majority of routes in the city and as well as Newport, Penarth, Barry, Cardiff Airport and Llantwit Major. Stagecoach South Wales, Edwards Coaches and EST Buses also provide services in the city.


Stand B at Central station is used for services to destinations outside Cardiff and the Vale such as TrawsCambria X40 to Aberystwyth, Shuttle 100 to Swansea, Stagecoach services to the Valleys and all National Express services (e.g. Birmingham, London, Leeds).

The Megabus service to London, and to Newcastle via Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds stops outside Cardiff Castle on Castle Street.


Cardiff Bus uses stands B, C, D, E, F and W at Central station and Wood Street. Other bus stops in the city are located in Westgate Street, St. Mary Street, Castle Street, Kingsway, Greyfriars Road, Dumfries Place and Queen Street Station. Cardiff Bus operates a comprehensive Overground network.[7]

Cardiff Bus has introduced articulated buses on the popular 17 and 18 Capital City Red routes to Canton, Ely and Caerau and on the Baycar route. Other notable routes include the Capital City Green, four park & ride services and the now-withdrawn Free b shuttle bus. The company's hub is Cardiff Central bus station.

Park and ride[edit]

There are four Park and Ride services in the city:

The new park and ride is part of Cardiff council's Sustainable Travel City initiative, which is partly funded by the Welsh Assembly Government. There are plans to extend the number of space from 340 to 1,100 due to its sudden increase in usage.[8]


A directional sign for cyclists in Llanishen

Cycling in Cardiff is facilitated by its easy gradients and large parks.[9] In 2005, 4.3% of people commuted to work by cycling, compared to 2% in London and 5% in Berlin. However, cyclists in the city appear to be influenced by deterrents to cycling and as a result will need a greater level of improved facilities to increase cycling numbers, according to research by Cardiff University.[10]

There are 3 major off-road cycle routes in Cardiff, each following a major river in the city. The Taff Trail follows the River Taff south to north from Cardiff Bay, through the City Centre, Maindy, Llandaff, Radyr and Tongwynlais towards Brecon. The Ely Trail follows the River Ely west to east from St Fagans through Fairwater, Leckwith and Grangetown to Cardiff Bay. This route is connected to Penarth via Pont y Werin cyclist bridge. The Rhymney Trail follows the River Rhymney east to west in Pentwyn and Llanrumney.



The Aquabus runs every hour between the city centre (Taff Mead Embankment) and Cardiff Bay (Mermaid Quay), and between Cardiff Bay and Penarth (Cardiff Bay barrage). Throughout the year Cardiff Waterbus sail between the Pierhead on Cardiff's Waterfront and the Penarth end of the Cardiff Bay Barrage with short sightseeing cruises. Between March and October boats also depart from Cardiff Bay to take visitors to Flat Holm Island. The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral sail from Britannia Quay (in Roath Basin) to various destinations in the Bristol Channel.


Cardiff, as well as South and West Wales, is served by Cardiff Airport (CWL). Scheduled, charter, and low-cost flights are operated on a regular basis to Anglesey, other UK destinations, Europe, Africa and North America all year round.

Cardiff Heliport

It is located at Rhoose, south west of the city and has a dedicated railway station at Rhoose Cardiff International Airport railway station and is linked by bus to Cardiff Central bus station.

The Cardiff Heliport was the main operating base of police support services, and could also handle passenger traffic. It closed on 30 November 2014.


There are a number of plans in Cardiff to help facilitate traffic into the city centre and reduce chronic congestion that has plagued the city in recent years. The main city centre thoroughfare, St. Mary's Street, was closed to private vehicles in 2007.


Construction began on 17 March 2016 on the 5.25 km (3.26 mi) Eastern Bay Link Road (A4232) which will run from the Queen's Gate Roundabout to the Rover Way – Lamby Way Roundabout on the Southern Way Link Road, although at present only the first phase between Queen's Gate Roundabout and Ocean Way Interchange. This will complete the outer ring road and will help to reduce congestion in the city centre.[11]

Rail and light rail[edit]

There are plans to open more railway stations on existing lines to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and help reduce city centre congestion. Services on the Merthyr Line doubled to two per hour and a new rail service began on 6 February 2008 on the Ebbw Valley Railway.[12][13] Further improved frequencies with Pontypridd and Caerphilly to 7 per hour and 5 per hour respectively are expected.

Also of note is the long-held plan to introduce a light rail line connecting Cardiff Bay. However it is likely to have been shelved due to rising costs. Work on the new transport interchange to replace the Cardiff Central bus station began in January 2008.

A new out of town parkway-style station with 3,500 parking spaces has been proposed.[1]


  1. ^ Welsh Assembly Government | Local Area Summary Statistics p34 Archived 8 August 2010 at WebCite
  2. ^ Guardian Cardiff | Castle Street roadworks end as figures suggest change in travel behaviour
  3. ^ Williamson, David (26 August 2005). "Congestion charge for Cardiff?". Western Mail. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Station Usage 2005–2006" (XLS). Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  5. ^ "Network Map – Valleys & Cardiff local routes". Arriva Trains Wales. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  6. ^ "Local Transport Plan". Cardiff County Council. 1 August 2000. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  7. ^ Overground Archived 7 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Abby Alford (4 December 2009). "News – Cardiff News – New park and ride is a 'resounding success'". WalesOnline. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Travel News – South East Wales : Live Road Incidents". BBC. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Evaluating the Success of Urban Cycle Networks – Research database – Department for Transport". Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  11. ^ "£57m Cardiff Eastern Bay Link Road works begin". BBC. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  12. ^ Valley train link ready to open BBC News – 4 February 2008
  13. ^ "Train service resumes 46 years on". BBC News. 6 February 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2008.

External links[edit]

Media related to Transport in Cardiff at Wikimedia Commons