Sefton Bus Review – Merseytravel put it back/defer it but why?

A shot of the recently lost 311 route

A shot of the recently lost 311 route


From the Merseytravel Web Site –

A Merseytravel spokesperson said: “Following feedback from the public at the initial consultation stage and further discussions with councillors and bus operators, a decision has been taken to delay the implementation of the Sefton Bus Network Review. This will allow for further time to assess the consultation findings.

“The proposals will now be published at a later date for people to be able to give their views. As a result the original start date for the changes to be implemented has been moved from January 2017 to April 2017.

Arriva bus at The Meadows in Maghull

Arriva bus at The Meadows in Maghull

I have blogged about this previously, here are a couple of links to those previous postings:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/09/22/sefton-borough-review-of-bus-network-commercial-and-subsidised/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/09/27/sefton-bus-network-merseytravels-maghull-consultation-event/

The Merseytravel bus routes consultation event recently held in Maghull.

The Merseytravel bus routes consultation event recently held in Maghull.

Now call me a cynic but I smell trouble for Sefton’s bus network and when the ruling politicians who presently run Sefton Council and Merseytravel smell trouble they defer things for ‘more consideration’ or ‘more information’ or ‘more consultation’ or even just for a way out.

With thanks to Kevin for the lead to this story

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.

Bus Deregulation, Arriva’s 311 route and Stagecoach

Yesterday I posted about the last gasp attempt to get Arriva Buses to think again about ceasing the 311 bus route which runs from Liverpool through Aintree, Maghull & Lydiate and on to Ormskirk and Skelmersdale.

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I have also been contacted by another local resident, one who knows a great deal about the local bus industry. He raised one pertinent question and made a suggestion which I have followed up.

His question was why have Arriva, who withdrew buses from the east of Maghull not that long ago, now increased the bus services in that area? When they removed services there they said there was not enough business yet that same area is getting a better service now. Curious indeed, I wonder if Arriva will explain this apparent partial U turn, which will of course be welcomed by folk on the eastern side of Maghull.

His suggestion was that I approach Stagecoach Merseyside to see if they would be willing to look at running the 311 route. Well it may be a long shot but why not have a go said I. An en e-mail was duly sent to Stagecoach yesterday and I await their response.

On the wider issue to the Bus Deregulation Act, which was a Tory move in the early 1980’s, I have never thought it served a useful purpose and did not lead to the competition the Tories said it would. Indeed, a brief few years of competition was quickly replaced with all the big bus companies taking over the smaller ones so to remove their competition. Here in Sefton Borough Arriva rule the roost with a few Stagecoach operated routes but competition, well I can’t see much or any of it myself.

Also bus companies don’t seem to have been brought into the modern world as they do not advertise their routes much, if at all, via the internet and newspapers. Neither do they seem to innovate much either. You still hear tales of bus users with £10 notes being treated poorly on buses when you would have thought any money would be welcomed.

Stop Press: Sadly, Stagecoach have responded today to say they are unable take over the 311 route.