Like many people I have seen the TV/press stories about Liverpool City Council suspending bus lanes to see if it will help traffic flow better. However TV news in particular is so short (on most things) that you never get to hear the detail. So here is some detail that I picked up via Merseytravel. The notes in brackets are ones that I have added for clarity or comment purposes.
· We (Merseytravel) will work with the council and the bus operators to collect the data and information required to ensure that the analysis and assessment of the trial is robust and evidence-based.
· We (Merseytravel) continue to believe there is merit in bus lanes; they can help improve journey times and the reliability of buses, and can make the bus network more attractive.
· There may be some bus lanes that aren’t working as effectively as they could be. A trial may help pin point where the problems lay and where improvements can be made.
· We (Merseytravel) are pleased to see that Liverpool City Council has made it clear it will be encouraging public feedback on the initiative from both public transport and non-public transport users as part of the consultation.
1. What’s Merseytravel’s view on the bus lanes suspension?
It is a LCC (Liverpool City Council) initiative. Merseytravel will work with Liverpool and the bus operators to collect the data and information required to ensure that the analysis and assessment of the outcome of the trial is robust and evidence-based. We do believe there is merit in bus lanes- they can help improve journey times and the reliability of buses, and can make the bus network more attractive. We do fully appreciate that there may be those that aren’t working as effectively as they could, or where the lay out or signage could be improved to assist all road users. This trial may help pin point where the problems lay and where improvements can be made.
2. LCC says that data indicates that bus lanes not leading to increased usage (of buses), does Merseytravel agree?
Bus usage is a complex picture. Caution should be urged in linking any increases or decreases in bus usage directly with the provision, or not, of bus lanes. Bus lanes are just one of a range of measures that can help increase patronage. However, in most surveys bus punctuality and reliability is the top priority for passengers.
3. How has Merseytravel been working with LCC on this initiative? (Sounds to me that Merseytravel had this foisted on them!)
This is a LCC-led initiative. We will work with LCC and the bus operators during the trial period to collect the data and information required to ensure that the analysis and assessment of the outcome is robust and evidence-based.
4. What is the view of the bus operators?
This is a question you’ll need to ask them. We’ll be working with them and LCC during the trial.
5. So how will Merseytravel work to ensure that the data and information is robust and evidence-based?
The timescales are tight to get sufficient and informative baseline data before the trial commences and we have informed LCC of that (definitely had it foisted on them!). However, working with the bus operators and other key stakeholders we are working to ensure that there is information on traffic flow, journey times and the number and type of bus users before the trial starts with the mechanisms in place to collect information on the same measures during the trial period.
6. Shouldn’t bus lanes reviews be down to Merseytravel/PTEs (Passenger Transport Executives) to do?
Merseytravel’s role is generally to look at the big picture- getting people around the city region on public transport. Supporting bus usage is obviously one part of that, with bus lanes one of a number of considerations alongside wider issues such as fare structures and whether communities are being served appropriately. The local authorities have responsibility for the maintenance of highways in their area and they are therefore often best placed to identify if something is working or not locally or needs to be reviewed. We would expect to be consulted on any plans and offering advice from a strategic perspective covering considerations such as access to bus stops and their locations and bus priorities. We can assist them in making an informed decision by ensuring they have the right evidence and information.
What you can read into all this is that Merseytravel are no longer all powerful and that Liverpool City Council are now pulling its strings.