Papers released by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority have recommended that franchising is supported as “the emerging leading option” for bus services within its area and that a detailed assessment should now be completed by Merseytravel.
The recommendation comes after two years of “intensive work” during which local people shared their current experiences of bus travel and what they want to see in the future.
If the Combined Authority approves the recommendations, Merseytravel officers will complete an assessment of franchising alongside continuing existing partnerships and an Enhanced Partnership model. A public consultation would follow later.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram says he is “determined to deliver a London-style integrated transport system for the City Region.” While acknowledging that there is more than one way in which that can be approached, Mr Rotheram adds that “doing nothing is not an option.”
“That’s why next week we will ask the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to support the completion of the work required to fully assess the emerging option of bus franchising against the alternatives for our future bus system.”
Mr Rotheram says that those sharing their experiences of bus travel have said that services “don’t run at the times they need them, especially early in the morning, late at night and at weekends,” and that the current system is “confusing, unreliable and expensive.”
Government figures show that bus patronage in both Halton and Merseyside rose by around 2% from 2017/18 to 2018/19. Volumes of fare paying passengers started rising earlier under partnership arrangements. Merseytravel has previously given partnership working the credit for those increases.
Under-18s can use MyTicket, which gives a day’s unlimited travel across the City Region for £2.20.