That 133 bus issue – Some clarity but questions remain

I understand that Merseytravel has told the Champion newspaper that it isn’t the case that they are reducing the service based on the publicly available tender document/service specification that is doing the rounds on this and at least one other website where a Maghull resident first spotted it.

They say that the cut-back timetable [in the service specification that I hold] was one of the options considered when the tender was put out, but it wasn’t the one taken up and that there will actually be no change to the present timetable.

They have however confirmed that a new operator (Hatton’s) will be taking on the route as of April.

So we now know that the service spec’ found by the local resident and passed to me was genuine and that it was one of the options being considered. What any additional options were, other than stay as is, of course, if there were more than two we do not know.

That Merseytravel was seriously considering a reduction in the 133 is a given as they had gone well down the planning route to the point of having a draft timetable to implement. But why consider reducing this route other than for the rather obvious reason of not enough money to spread around the publicly subsidised bus routes across Merseyside?

Was some extra funding found for the route at the last minute? Was Merseytravel aware of a negative backlash if they took the reduction plan further? Did the tenders to run the route come in lower than the price they had been expecting thereby creating the scope to keep things as they are?

I guess we are unlikely to get to know the back story to this matter but however, we got to the point of no service reduction in the 133 bus route it looks like it was a close shave but a very welcome one at that.

Oh, and by the way, the service spec’ that has not now had the timetable reduction within it implemented says that the start of the new contract is on 28th April 2019 and that it ends on 1st September 2019. Is that still the case and if it is will there be another challenge for the 133 bus route later this year?

2 thoughts on “That 133 bus issue – Some clarity but questions remain

  1. Jonathan Collins says:

    Hi Tony, just to add to this, in reality the whole bus system/network is in dire need of upheaval, let alone this particular issue.
    There is great danger that with lack of investment and foresight, they will begin to go the same way as the railways in the 1960s, all with the exception of the areas that desperately need it the most – areas cut off from rail such as Skelmersdale for instance.
    Greater vision and investment is needed, and for this we don’t need to look very far to the GM town of Leigh to see the great work TfGM have done with regards to the Leigh-Manchester Busway. A similar size town to Skem, with no rail connection, but a number of old disused lines branching out of it, GM have done an absolutely fantastic job in converting this old railway line into a fully segregated busway, with adjacent cycle/walking lane, that runs directly into Salford and Manchester.
    Now, granted, the cycle lane surface isn’t great. Which must be very frustrating for cyclists along this route that must have been looking forward to a brand new shiny surface, but instead get a very rough gravelly surface for the vast majority of the route. A wasted opportunity there perhaps.
    But the fact remains, like cyclists, buses are better off OFF the roads altogether in the ideal world. Completely segregated. This is where they make their biggest gains, and bring an element of exclusivity about them. There are numerous examples from around the world where this works great, but creating bus lanes on our existing roads, a la in Liverpool, won’t work unless properly enforced. Proper kerbed segregation (like proper cycle lanes) would be a massive help, but if there are ways in which we can take advantage of existing disused/under-used infrastructure, then Planners and Councillors should be giving their full support to them.
    If the Aintree-Bootle line is going to remain dormant (Merseytravel have absolutely no plans to reopen this any time soon), then why not build an adjacent bus route next to it? What an utter waste of space.
    Same goes for the two disused Liverpool tunnels – Waterloo and Wapping. Too narrow for modern trains now and the work required to accommodate them will come at an enormous cost.
    So what better way to take buses off Liverpool’s inner city streets than by taking them underground? Yes they would miss out several keep city centre stops on the way into town, but as most people generally go all the way into the city centre anyway, both these tunnels deliver the user at either end of the city centre, enabling the bus to resurface at either Great Howard Street by Costco, or Wapping near the Echo Arena.
    At a much greater cost than investment in rail services, they would serve a great purpose to the those who particularly live to the east of the city. Real rapid transit, fit for the 21st century.
    These are the kind of ideas that Rotherham and Anderson should be throwing their weight behind. Especially if they’re so ‘concerned’ about air quality (as recently boasted about on Twitter and all that jazz).
    Anyway, penny for your thoughts.

    • Quite some issues here to respond to but here goes. Being a railway enthusiast building bus-ways on old railway tracks is a bit hard for me to swallow, of course, I’d rather see the railway being rebuilt. Cycle paths – yes indeed they are generally rubbish and end in ridiculous or even dangerous places. Oh, how we need a decent cycle path network on Merseyside and indeed in West Lancs. The mothballed railway line from Aintree to Bootle – Merseytravel’s problem is that they have had a history of giving the impression that projects like this are going to happen when in reality it was little more than thinking out loud so to speak. My personal view is that MT had the fingers burned very badly over the failed Merseytram project and they have yet to regain a determination to make big advances in public transport such as those say in Greater Manchester.

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