Agenda and minutes

LCR Transport Committee - Thursday, 16th September, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Municipal Buildings, Huyton, Knowsley, L36 9YU

Contact: Lisa Backstrom  0151 330 1079

Media

Items
No. Item

18.

Chair's Opening Remarks

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of the Committee, Councillor Liam Robinson welcomed everyone to the meeting which was taking place in the Council Chamber, Huyton and he thanked Knowsley Council for hosting the meeting.  He talked through housekeeping for the meeting.

 

The Chair referred to the recent sad passing of Committee member, Councillor Harry Howard from Halton Council.  He paid tribute to Councillor Howard and remarked on his ‘exceptional’ qualities, strong socialist values and respect for other people’s views.   The Chair added that he was very well-respected by everyone and would be greatly missed.

 

Councillor John Stockton also paid tribute to Councillor Howard as a Halton Council colleague and read through a statement he had sent to other colleagues at Halton.  He commented on the friendship that had developed with himself and Councillor Philbin during train journeys to Mann Island for meetings.  He remarked on his great sense of humour, his professionalism and how everyone regarded him as a ‘gentleman’.  He expressed his shock at his passing and sent his condolences to Councillor Howard’s family.

 

Councillor Ged Philbin, a long-time friend of Councillor Howard concurred with all of the sentiments expressed.

 

 

The Committee stood in silence as a mark of respect.

 

 

19.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors J Banks, J Donnelly and T Rowe.

 

20.

Declarations of Interest

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

21.

Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 252 KB

To receive as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 15 July 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors A Jones advised that he had submitted apologies for the previous meeting and requested for these to be included in the minutes. He also provided an update to the board with regard to Outside Bodies Appointments and advised that he had been appointed as the opposition representative on the TravelSafe Board.

 

RESOLVED – That, subject to the inclusion of the amendments detailed, the minutes of the last meeting of the Transport Committee held on 15 July 2021 be approved as a correct record.

 

22.

Operator Presentation

To receive a joint presentation from Arriva and Stagecoach on the challenges and opportunities for bus travel in the Liverpool City Region.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Matt Davies, Regional Managing Director for Stagecoach, and Richard Hoare, North West Commercial Director for Arriva, to present jointly on the challenges and opportunities for bus travel in the Liverpool City Region.

 

Richard Hoare provided an overview of Arriva and explained that the company was responsible for 1.5M journeys a week, using 600 vehicles of which 400 were low or zero emission vehicles, and together with Stagecoach employed 2.5K people. 

 

Matt Davies advised that 500K people travelled on Stagecoach vehicles each week, supported by 650 employees across two depots and with £20M spent on new vehicle investments. Matt Davies explained that the Merseyside Bus Alliance was five years old on the day of the meeting and had made fantastic achievements over that time.  It was noted that bus patronage had declined over the last five-year period across the North West, but that the City Region was performing 15% better than the rest of the North West region. There was a 92% satisfaction rate for bus transport in the City Region, one of the highest rates for an urban area in the UK. Arriva and Stagecoach together had invested £58M on vehicles, WIF and contactless payments, mobile ticketing, reduced tendered services budget, and coordinating timetables on shared corridors. It was stated that both operators were conscious that more was to be done to deliver on the Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s vision for the City Region’s transport network.

 

Richard Hoare raised the impact of covid-19 on the public transport network, including how lockdowns reduced patronage by 15%. Supported by Merseytravel and the wider LCR Combined Authority, operators worked to ensure that key workers could access services. Patronage grew to 60% after the first lockdown, as additional services were scheduled to accommodate schools. Richard Hoare explained that bus recovery funding would be available until March 2022, but that operators would be expected to stand on their own two feet from April. It was therefore imperative that the sector recover as much as possible before then.

 

Matt Davies spoke to the collaborative working between operators and local authorities, and the building of strong relationships with LCR Combined Authority officers. Together all parties acted to continually address issues and produce solutions. Considerable investment was made to ensure that premises were covid secure and in enhanced cleaning, and these aspects would be continued in accordance with public prioritisation. Additional services were provided for school movements in addition to and separate from the normal bus network, to allow more children to move in bubbles. Colleagues at Arriva donated a bus for vaccine trips and Stagecoach were waiting to support with an additional bus. Day tickets were provided to Local Authority partners to support vaccine access, and the decision to stop giving change to reduce transmission has resulted in a £12)K surplus which was donated to the NHS charities. The Bus Alliance had been shortlisted for the Responsible Business Awards by Liverpool City Chamber of Commerce. Arriva and Stagecoach had worked together to ensure that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

QUARTERLY BUS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To consider the report of Merseytravel.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited Matt Goggins, Assistant Director for Bus, to present the Quarterly Bus Update.

 

Matt Goggins advised the Committee that the report covered the second quarter of the current financial year and included the covid response, National Bus Strategy, the Bus Alliance, the green bus routes programme and bus reform.

 

With regard to the Covid-19 response Matt Goggins advised that the Combined Authority had been working closely with operators to encourage patronage. Financial support continued to be received from the Government and the Combined Authority, and it was expected that this would continue in order to sustain the network throughout the rest of the financial year.

 

Matt Goggins advised that the Bus Alliance had agreed its business and investment plan for the year, with priority given to ensuring sustainability of network and passenger confidence. It was explained that the Green bus routes were concerned with investing in punctuality and reliability, and that work continued with highways officers to carry out appropriate models for interventions. Proposals were being developed for the 53 and 86 routes and a briefing on this would be provided to a future meeting.

 

The hydrogen bus trial had reached a project milestone with Alexander Dennis selected to manufacture the vehicles and, subject to agreement by operators and selection of a fuel supplier, an order for the vehicles could be placed by end of financial year. A business case was in development for a zero-emission bus regional area scheme and was expected to be submitted to the Government in January 2022. Assessment work focused on market engagement continued to be undertaken with regard to bus reform, to include commercial viability and to quantify the level of risk, with an aim to bring the work to a conclusion in early 2022.

 

Councillor Allan Jones asked when the hydrogen vehicles would be delivered if an order was placed at the close of the year and sought clarification on the nature of fuel delivery systems and the type of hydrogen that the buses would use.

 

Matt Goggins advised that this would be the first time this type of bus would be mass produced by Alexander Dennis and so when timescales were confirmed these would be shared with the Committee. The fuel delivery solution related to the ability to pump hydrogen into buses and would require the construction of a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. Hydrogen grades referred to the carbon efficiency, with green hydrogen being produced through renewable energy sources such as wind. The aim was to utilise green hydrogen, however there was also the potential to harness hydrogen produced by industry within the city region. Matt Goggins outlined the decision-making process for the project which would be brought back to the Transport Committee before moving to the Combined Authority and the Metro Mayor.

 

Councillor John Stockton enquired after the cost per commissioned hydrogen bus.

 

Matt Goggins advised that he could not provide an exact figure per bus but confirmed that the commissioning process had allowed the LCR Combined Authority to negotiate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Liverpool City Region - Bus Service Improvement Plan pdf icon PDF 295 KB

To consider the report of the Assistant Director for Bus.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited Matt Goggins to present the Bus Service Improvement Plan. The Chair noted that this would be considered by the Combined Authority for decision and proposed an additional briefing session be held for Transport Committee members to consider the Plan in advance of submission.

 

Matt Goggins addressed the Committee and confirmed that this was the Committee’s opportunity to formally consider the plan before submission.  Bus Back Better, the National Bus Strategy, provided an opportunity to share in £3 billion funding for bus services across the UK and outside of Greater London to support actions such as decarbonisation and bus reform. One of the key requirements for funding was to introduce a franchise or enhanced partnership model, and for the ambitious prioritisation of bus including the need to prevent a car-led recovery, to make bus attractive alternative, and to respond more quickly and flexibly to changes in demand than rail.

 

Matt Goggins advised that public sector investment in buses resulted in a strong return. This would allow for a ZEBRA application for hydrogen buses, faster and more reliable services, better resident experience, and more integrated and greener public travel. It was noted that there were not many bus park and ride services active in the city region but there could be opportunities to expand this. Public consultation exercises had identified that city region customers had four priorities: punctuality and reliability, simplified ticketing, an improved network and an improved board experience. Together these helped set the vision for bus priorities. The aim was to tell the local story in strong way and set out a clear plan for an ambitious future, including the articulation of what was needed from central Government and why, and demonstration of local backing.

 

Matt Goggins outlined nine priorities for investment. One of these was scaling-up green bus routes and translating the principle to four other corridors with high levels of bus use and congestion. Proposed network enhancements included sustaining the network and enhancing it to address challenges around connectivity and off-peak provision. Fare reduction initiatives were also important for customers, and funding would be requested in order to underwrite the potential reduction in multi-operator fares.

 

Decarbonisation proposals included scaling up the zero-emission bus offer and building upon the existing hybus project. Another consideration was a bus rapid transit, which would take a trackless tram approach and would bridge a gap between bus and rail. There had been strong interest in this proposal from Wirral Waters and Paddington Village.

 

BPIS would also help develop a strong brand identity for Metrobus. It was noted that there had been a step change in delivery and services in Halton, including levelling up, which provided an opportunity to build Halton more closely into the transport network. It was recognised that bus reform may present some resource challenges and so flexible financial support for delivery was also requested. A delivery plan would sit alongside the BPIS to include milestones, timescales and public progress reporting for accountability of delivery. Although the document  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Mersey Ferries Update - September 2021 pdf icon PDF 234 KB

To consider the report of Merseytravel.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited Gary Evans, Assistant Director for Customer Delivery, to present the Mersey Ferries Update for September 2021.

 

Gary Evans advised that the report detailed the operational  impacts of covid-19 over the previous 18 months and  covid over 18 months and provided an update on the long-term strategy approach.

 

Councillor Steve Foulkes welcomed the report and noted that, whilst there was a concern regarding the landing stage, it appeared that everyone involved in the terminal was working positively together.

 

Councillor Jerry Williams also welcomed the package and noted its importance from a heritage and business perspective. 

 

Councillor Ken McGlashan expressed concern regarding the age of the ferries and the cost of refurbishment and replacement.

 

The Chair wished to place on record the Committee’s thanks to Gary Evans and his team for all their work over the previous years and looked forward to witnessing exciting developments.

 

RESOLVED – That the content of the report be noted.

 

26.

Financial Performance Report - April to July 2021 pdf icon PDF 254 KB

To consider the report of Merseytravel.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited John Fogarty, Executive Director of Corporate Services, to present the Financial Performance Report for April to July 2021.

 

John Fogarty outlined the report and explained that capital was showing a spend at 29% of what was aimed for. This was described as relatively normal for the first quarter and would continue to be monitored, with the biggest element stated to be rolling stock. With regards to revenue John Fogarty explained that the budget had been difficult to set for this year due to uncertainty created by the pandemic. Pessimistic estimates had been used, but income from the bus network had been higher than budgeted for. There had been variance witnessed in concessionary travel and ferries, and there remained significant open risks such as the Beatles Story.

 

Councillor Steve Foulkes noted that the revenue looked healthy but understood that the picture could change as a result of the Mid-term Budget Review. It was raised that Mersey Electric were seeking compensation under no net gain no net loss, stating that they were the only franchised rail system in UK that had not received subsidy. Councillor Steve Foulkes expressed concern at the implication that emphasis was on the Combined Authority rather than central Government and wished to reignite debate on this matter.

 

 

RESOLVED – That the contents of the report be noted.

 

27.

Public Question Time

Members of the public will be given the opportunity to ask questions which

have been submitted in accordance with Meetings Standing Orders No. 11.

 

A period of 30 minutes will be allocated for this item and copies of valid questions will be circulated at the meeting.

 

Members of the public who wish to submit questions are asked to contact

Democratic Services by either:

Email: democratic.services@liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk

Telephone: 0151 330 1086

In writing: Democratic Services, LCR Combined Authority, No.1 Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN

 

A pro-forma will be supplied which, for this meeting must be returned by

5.00pm on 13 September 2021 (the Monday before the meeting). In this respect, return details are set out in the pro-forma.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received a question from Mr David Williams as follows which was read out to the Committee by Lisa Backstrom on Mr William’s behalf:-

 

“Given the return to offices that is being encouraged, can something be done about the lack of bus stops serving North Liverpool since their removal in January 2021 during the peak of the pandemic.  Workers now have only one stop to get home from despite many services still driving along Dale St and Victoria Street, but there are no stops to pick up.  Workers travelling to South Liverpool or Wirral are far better served and it's not good just saying to get connecting buses while trying to minimise passenger risk with a pandemic still on.”

The Chair thanked Mr Williams for submitting a question and responded briefly by advising that the change has taken place as part of the Liverpool City Council’s Connectivity works.  There was a commitment to review that scheme as people returned to work post-covid. He explained that a detailed, formal written response would be provided within 10 working days.

 

28.

Petitions and Statements

Members of the public will be given the opportunity to submit a single

petition or statement in accordance with Meetings Standing Orders No. 11.

 

Members of the Public who wish to submit a single petition or statement

are asked to contact Democratic Services by either:

Email: democratic.services@liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk

Telephone: 0151 330 1086

In writing: Democratic Services, LCR Combined Authority, No.1 Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN

 

All petitions and statements for this meeting should be submitted to

Merseytravel, using the contact details above, by 5.00pm on 13 September 2021 (the Monday before the meeting).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no petitions or statements.

29.

Chair's closing remarks

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed the Committee that he had hoped to have a report on the Combined Authority’s Corporate Plan. There would be a report to the Committee at the November meeting and a copy of the Plan would be circulated to members in the meantime.

 

He thanked everyone for their attendance at what had been a long but necessary meeting and looked forward to seeing everyone in November 2021.