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Liverpool City Region: Bus franchising is leading option

Liverpool City Region’s Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has announced today (Feb 20) that bus services in the region could be franchised as part of a London-style public transport system.

Papers from the Combined Authority, set to be published later today, highlight bus franchising and the “leading option”, amongst others, for the future of the bus network, following completion of a detailed and independently audited assessment.

The recommendation comes after two years of intensive work, including a year-long “Big Bus Debate”, which saw almost 3,000 local people share their experiences of bus travel and how it can be improved on.

Following the Big Bus Debate, in July 2019, the Combined Authority agreed a new “Vision for Bus”, building on the public consultation and emerging issues such as the Climate Emergency, Industrial Strategy and poor air quality.

Bus travel is critical to the running and wellbeing of the city region’s economy and communities with 8 out of 10 public transport journeys in the region made by bus.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said:

“Our communities rely on buses to connect them to work, education and training, family, hospitals and other public services, but too often the current, de-regulated system is letting people down.

“People have told me through our Big Bus Debate, that buses don’t run at the times they need them, especially early in the morning, late at night and at weekends, and that too many people find the current system to be confusing, unreliable and expensive. This has to change.

“I am determined to deliver a London-style integrated transport system for the Liverpool City Region. There are a number of ways we can achieve that through the powers in the Bus Services Act, but I am clear that whichever model we choose the outcome must be the same: a bus service that is simple, punctual, reliable and affordable. A system that is designed around what we know our communities and our local economy needs, provides people with a genuine quality alternative to the car and helps to tackle the climate emergency. 

“Doing nothing is simply not an option. That’s why next week we will ask the 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 in the Liverpool City Region, so as to deliver what people have told us they need from their buses and the whole transport system.”

The Combined Authority currently invests £64m a year in supporting the bus network, including subsidising socially necessary bus routes that are not commercially viable for commercial bus operators, and payments to bus operators for providing free concessionary travel.


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