Bus routes in Sefton – More cuts in subsidised services?

With a review of Sefton’s bus services on the near horizon (and you can I think sadly read into that more cuts in the subsidised routes) this photo is telling:-

No passengers

Click on the photo to enlarge it

I took it around 7.30pm on 13th July at the Meadows shops in Maghull – it’s the 310 bus out of Liverpool. I happened to be there quite by chance when the bus arrived but the telling thing is that whilst the bus stopped there was no one on it and there was no one waiting to get on it.

Oh yes, and the review is being undertaken by Merseytravel the transport committee of the Liverpool City Region.

It was the recent ‘Knowsley’ Review that has led to the re-routing of the 133 bus route through Maghull & Melling. My previous posting refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/06/04/melling-gets-another-bus-cut-as-133-is-re-routed/

As someone who has campaigned to retain local bus routes for many years – the loss of the 311 Arriva route being the most recent one – I really do fear that with empty buses like this we are going to end up with fewer buses as we move forward. It reminds me of the decline of our railways after the Second World War. With less people using the trains the number of trains were reduced. Then as there were few trains less people used them etc. etc. You get my drift…….

But trains are making a remarkable come back, will the same happen to buses in years to come?

Merseyside Bus Network Review – code for less buses running?

A blast from the past a former Ribble Lydiate bound 321 bus in model form. Sadly it's a lost route for Lydiate residents.

A blast from the past a former Ribble Lydiate bound 321 bus in model form. Sadly it’s a lost route for Lydiate residents.

I was interested to see Merseytravel saying this recently, my comments are in italics:-

As part of the on-going work with the Bus Alliance to encourage more people to use the bus, Merseytravel is reviewing the bus network across the Liverpool City Region in partnership with operators to create an improved and simpler bus network.

Part of this work will involve looking at the existing supported [subsidised by the public purse] bus services and seeing where the budget for these can be best used. By working with Arriva and Stagecoach, we will look to ensure that passengers will have alternative provision available within their area if a service is removed or changed.*

As part of these reviews, public consultation will take place in each of the districts across the city region. The first review started this week in Kirkby with a drop-in event, while consultation in St Helens starts next week. Reviews of Wirral, Sefton, Halton and Liverpool will follow over the next year.

More details can be found on our website at www.merseytravel.gov.uk/busreview. If you have any questions, contact the Bus Team.

The Bus Alliance is also looking at value-for-money fare structures that are easy to understand and more investment in the buses themselves. Encouraging more people to travel by bus drives investment and means less reliance on the public purse.

*This statement says to me that there are likely to be further cut backs in subsidised routes across Merseyside and by this I mean those routes where Merseytravel pay the operator money to make the route viable to run.

My thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for the lead to this posting

Merseyside Bus Alliance

Display on No.58  Nottingham bus

Merseytravel Committee Members recently took the decision to recommend that the Combined Liverpool City Region Authority gives consent to the signing of a ‘Bus Alliance’ agreement by Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach.

This is me with the Lydiate & Maghull resident's petition in 2015 at a 311 bus stop in Lydiate. The petition was not collected by me I would add but by the hard work of locals concerned about the loss of this Arriva route to Ormskirk. The battle was sadly lost.

This is me with the Lydiate & Maghull resident’s petition in 2015 at a 311 bus stop in Lydiate. The petition was not collected by me I would add but by the hard work of locals concerned about the loss of this Arriva route to Ormskirk. The battle was sadly lost.

According to Merseytravel the Alliance, which other operators can join, is focused on offering bus users seamless, hassle free and value for money travel right from planning their journeys through to getting off at their destination. It aims to build on the high customer satisfaction levels for bus in the City Region and to encourage people who don’t currently use the bus to realise the benefits.

Mm, not sure about ‘high customer satisfaction levels for bus in the City Region’, they can’t be talking to the same people I talk to as the answer I am getting is that folks think our bus services in the Sefton part of Merseyside are poor indeed.

The first 12 months of the Alliance would see a number of initiatives including an initial £19m investment in greener buses with free WiFi and USB charging points; the introduction of one point of contact for ‘bus’ customer service; new customer service training for drivers; improved links to John Lennon Airport and the rail network; the development of a trial 24-hour bus route and the start of a strategic review to create a simpler, clearer bus network.

Subject to the signing of the ‘Bus Alliance’ agreement, Merseytravel Committee Members also approved both a three year plan for the continued roll out of smart ticketing– following the millionth ticket sale on the Walrus card back in February, and changes that would mark a key first stage in simplifying ticket buying.

Well, this sceptic hopes that Merseytravel can turn around the quality, reliability and customer friendliness issues that bedevil our local bus routes. Here’s hoping.

Smart ticketing developments would include customers being able to purchase operator tickets on Walrus cards and a new day Solo, which would launch in the summer and going smart later this year with people being able to load as many as they wanted on their Walrus for use when needed.

Merseytravel also approved recommendations for all Solo tickets to be ‘valid across Merseyside’ this summer, simplifying fares and bringing the costs down for current ‘all areas’ users by as much as £268 for those currently buying a yearly adult peak Solo.

My comments are those in italics

The Liverpool City Region Authority supported the Bus Alliance agreement at its meeting held on 15th April.