To consider information on the Third Quarter of 2018/19 with regard to achievements of the LCR Bus Alliance, the latest progress on improving the procurement management and quality of supported services through a series of reforms, progress on developing the commitment of the LCR Devolution Deal in respect of improving bus services and other key initiatives delivered to improve the bus offer across the region.
The Committee considered a report presented by Laura Needham (Bus Strategy Programme Manager) relating to the Third Quarter of 2018/19 with regard to achievements of the LCR Bus Alliance, the latest progress on improving the procurement management and quality of supported services through a series of reforms, progress on developing the commitment of the LCR Devolution Deal in respect of improving bus services and other key initiatives delivered to improve the bus offer across the region.
Members asked questions and commented on the following relating to the Quarterly Bus Update: -
· The 153 bus that runs through Eccleston in St Helen’s that is not picking up anyone when it goes into the bus station having waited for 10 minutes;
· Were officers aware of the issues relating to Avon and the financial concerns and why wasn’t anything done to support or assist Avon;
· Do the Bus and Legal Teams referred to in paragraph 3.4.1 of the report, address the social value concerns when agreeing contracts for the supported bus services;
· Can any assurances be given that consultation with passengers and local residents will take place in advance while the Bus Rerouting Strategy is being planned and implemented;
· The Key Route Network (KRN) is not mainly used by buses, but yet the Bus Network Performance Survey Team is due to undertake surveys on stops and shelters across the KRN and roads, why is this;
· Would like to see more social impact analysis information included in reports in future; and
· There needs to be more consultation and information sharing with passengers, too many times things are done retrospectively, for example, Arriva changed its bus schedule for the No. 9 bus which affects NHS staff including nurses. There was no consultation, no information, no notices or timetable changes on the bus shelters.
Laura Needham informed the Committee that she didn’t have responses for all the questions asked and would be happy to provide responses in writing to the Committee following the meeting. She stated that in relation to the Bus Rerouting Strategy that it was led by Liverpool City Council and that a consultative forum had been arranged and letters have been sent to local residents. She also commented that in relation to the KRN that it was being used due to it being suggested in the passenger survey and was being used as part of the trial.
Frank Rogers informed the Committee that Merseytravel had to be incredibly careful about what is said and done with bus operators and that Merseytravel couldn’t pre-determine what would happen with Avon and then take action as Merseytravel could be liable and action could be taken against Merseytravel. He further stated that the team did everything they could to re-instate services in light of the financial position of the organisation, but it was not for Merseytravel to get involved in another organisation to figure out the outcome. He commented that Merseytravel were looking to increase the services and promote the use of the bus for young people, by increasing quality control standards and making them think of the use of the bus, but it does not yet include social value in terms of the service.
Steve Foulkes (Finance and Organisational Development Lead) informed the Committee that Merseytravel did well to reinstate bus services as best as possible given the financial circumstances to the organisation, but consideration needed to be given to the ripple effects of bus services, for example, housing estates and housing offers where there are no bus services, which could have a negative impact on communities.
The Chair, Councillor Robinson informed the Committee that things are done through proper consultation, but there are elements that are still subject to planning applications. People don’t just get on the bus for nothing, they have a purpose, whether it is to get to work, or go shopping and do things, but it is about the understanding of what’s going on and how to provide the service to match it. He stated that he was a bit worried about changes to routes and services without consultation or information and that he would bring it to the attention of the Bus Alliance which was part of their agreement.