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?

133 Bus Route – Something odd has happened – Reduced service becomes no reduced service

I seem to have been posting quite a lot about bus issues recently. A few days ago I blogged about potential service reductions to the 133 bus route. My posting can be found via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/02/24/waterloo-maghull-kirkby-133-bus-to-run-less-frequently/

Not surprisingly reactions to this news have been ones of concern from users of the bus route.

However, things have taken a surprising twist in that a fellow local councillor posted on the Official Maghull Community Page of Facebook yesterday that Merseytravel has told him that the 133 bus, although getting a new operator, the times & days will remain as they were.

This raises the question of whether the 5 page Merseytravel service specification document for the reduced service (which I hold an electronic copy of) is genuine or whether Merseytravel has actually and thankfully just had second thoughts.

In case anyone wants to see it, here is the full service specification document that I hold:-

I have taken steps to try to validate whether the document is a genuine Merseytravel one or not and will make the outcome of those enquires known. As someone who is not a conspiracy theorist, my gut tells me that Merseytravel has simply had a welcome change of heart but until we know for sure………….

Please click on the various pages of the scanned document to be able to read it.

Waterloo – Maghull – Kirkby 133 bus to run less frequently

The 133 bus route (currently operated by Comfy Bus) links a number of small communities (Melling Mount, Sefton Village, Lunt Village & Homer Green) with larger places such as Kirkby, Maghull (and its new North Station), Thornton and Waterloo. It’s been running for many years (probably since the withdrawal of the former Ribble buses 381 and 382 many moons ago?). But it seems things are going to change and sadly not for the better.

Merseytravel have issued a new invitation to tender for this subsidised route to be operated (Monday to Saturday) from this coming April. The 133 does not run on a Sunday, I might add

However, instead of the present 10 buses from Waterloo to Kirkby and 11 buses from Kirkby to Waterloo each day the new specification is for only 6 buses to operate Waterloo to Kirkby and 6 buses Kirkby to Waterloo. One additional service the 0743 from Kirkby will terminate at Maghull Square at 0823 and will run school term times only, so will not serve Sefton & Lunt Villages, Homer Green or Thornton at all. The very early bus (the 06.53 from Kirkby) will also not run on a Saturday.*

There can be little doubt that this reduction in frequency of the 133 bus will be a blow to regular users of it. Here’s a link to present timetable:-

bustimes.org/services/133-waterloo-maghull-knowsley-industrial-park-2

And this is the proposed timetable from April this year:-

I’m guessing that the Parish Councils along the route will have had something to say about reduction in service.

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for the lead to this posting.

Please click on the new timetable to enlarge it for reading

* Hope I’ve interpreted all the changes correctly but please shout if I have not.

Paying your bus fare on Merseyside cashless but there have to be concerns about the move towards a cashless society

Cash is of course still accepted on buses, but the option to pay by the Contactless method has to date only been available on Merseyside via Stagecoach buses.

However, Merseytravel want to make this option more widely available, which helps both passengers and the bus companies, as they don’t have deal with so much cash at the end of each day. Plus, there’s less chance of ne’er-do-wells robbing a driver.

Cumfybus have recently upgraded their ticket machines in order they can accept Contactless payments. However, there do not seem to be any notices on the buses to inform cash passengers of this payment option.

An Arriva 300 bus at the Meadows bus stop, Maghull.

My understanding is that the new machines are owned by Merseytravel and rented out to Cumfybus (and HTL in the near future) so the cashless revolution can progress. Arriva are getting the same ticket machines later this year, so they can finally join the 21st Century!

The new ticket machines Merseytravel are providing to Cumfybus & HTL also have a tracking system which allows Merseytravel to check on the punctuality of their sponsored services as well. I’m also told that there’s a website which allows the public to check where buses are at anyone time and the registration of said bus. Handy for seeing if the 31/31A (Maghull/Lydiate circular buses) is coming and if it is on time!

Of course all this progress could potentially lead up to totally cashless buses and even trains locally, indeed that may well be the long-term aim? But I must admit to having reservations about a cashless society as it may not be a very inclusive one. Hence campaigns like this by Which?:-

‘The UK is drifting into a cashless society that risks leaving millions of people behind.

People like Gem, who has brittle bone disease:

I use a powered wheelchair and I have to get a taxi to and from work, which I pay for in cash. We’re definitely heading in the direction of being a cashless society. I’m a very digital person myself, but I think it’s important to realise that there are still barriers out there for a lot of people.

Bank branches and cashpoints are closing at an alarming rate. More than 3,300 UK bank branches have closed since 2015, leaving people struggling to access the cash they rely on.

That’s why we’re launching our new Freedom to Pay campaign. We want the government to set up a regulator to protect our access to cash and make sure nobody is left behind.

Support our campaign now and demand urgent action to protect cash for as long as people need it.’

campaigns.which.co.uk/freedom-to-pay/?utm_source=whichcouk&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=freedometopaylaunch

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for the lead to this posting

Merseyrail – Coming face to face with those new Stadler Trains

Well I actually came face to face with a mock-up of one of the new trains at Birkenhead’s Pacific Road Building as the first actual train is not due to be delivered until 2019. Here are my photos:-

The two Merseytravel reps with the mock-up were really informative and helpful on the day I went to have a look, which was in fact the last day the unit was on display in Birkenhead.

It is now being set up at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station for a further period of display to the public – 5-18 November, Mon-Sun 7.00 to 18.30

My only worry is that there may still, like with the present 507/508 rolling stock, be insufficient space for cycles.

On an amusing aside I got into conversation with a fellow railway enthusiast about the new trains and they suggested to me that the seats were a little hard. Well firm, I’ll give you that but, but not uncomfortable in my view. The same conversation went on to compare them with seats on some Cumfybus buses which despite the name of the bus company are a little on the firm side:-)))

The first photo is also on my Flickr page at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/