To consider this report which provides an update to Merseytravel on
key bus issues relating to the second quarter of 2019/2020.
The Committee considered a report from the Bus Strategy Programme Manager, Laura Needham who highlighted the following: -
· 9% growth in fare paying patronage year on year, which ‘bucks’ the national trend in bus patronage;
· For the first time adult patronage has increased and is now driving overall growth with over 150m bus journeys being made in the Liverpool City Region;
· Green Bus Routes programme has begun with consultants being appointed to lead on the interventions and options along the corridors;
· 100% of buses in the Liverpool City Region are now taking contactless payments with the first week of take up being around 8.2% with an increase in September 2019 up to 11.10%;
· The Customer Growth and Development Work-stream continues in October 2019 with the campaign “We cannot wait to tackle climate change” theme which mirrors public concern;
· Second phase of consultation for the Sefton Network review has commenced in early June 2019 and the changes have been implemented since September 2019;
· ‘Cumfybus’Ltd have applied and been accepted to join the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance and are already participating in the business planning process for next year;
· The Liverpool City Region continues to explore the Bus Services Act with 3 options being assessed including franchising, enhanced partnerships and the Bus Alliance, an update was considered recently by the Combined Authority in July 2019;
· As a result of the new ticket machines for contactless payments there has been an increase in real time information accuracy;
· The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has been shortlisted for the City Region Authority of the year;
· The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Bus Alliance has also been shortlisted for three
Members enquired about the following issues:-
· The increase in patronage being contrary to the reduction in usage and if there was demand for the services available?
· Was the ‘older tyre ban’ already done locally?
· What routes have been identified for the 24-hour service?
· Are there any other bus operators considering joining the Bus Alliance?
· Any plans for another service for the High Park estate?
· How accurate is the 95.3% for the RTI punctuality and reliability system?
· How is the demand responsive travel going in the Speke area?
· What provisions are in place for rural bus services in the city region, when operators are withdrawing services at short notice?
Laura Needham responded to the questions as follows: -
· The vision and information was built upon the public consultation and forms part of the business planning with the Bus Alliance for next year.
· Regarding the vision for the 24 hour services, it is to be rolled out across all services by April 2020.
· There is one other operator who is interested in the Bus Alliance.
· A review is conducted every 6 months and the High Park estate will be looked at again.
· Using the new ticket machines in place has assisted how the RTI information is tracked.
· Demand Responsive Travel has been good and in the first full week 472 new journeys were made on the service and it was running on about 21% in comparison to the 211 bus service. There has been a further 39% growth between week 1-4 and it is currently being monitored.
· Regarding rural bus services it is down to the network review services in each of the areas and looking at the provisions.
Shane Fitzpatrick also responded as follows: -
· The ‘older tyre ban’ is a policy that has been expanded nationally and been in place for a period of time.
· The Support Services contracts are checked regularly through an independent audit to ensure the services comply and meet the requirements of the ‘older tyre ban’ policy.
· In terms of patronage there has been growth of fare paying passengers of over 16% and is currently bucking the trend in the region.
· Each small operator that tries to come into the Bus Alliance must set out a 2 year business plan, but there is also an allowance for an investment plan.
· There are currently very restricted budgets available, so it is not just providing services in the rural bus services areas. There is a protocol introduced through the Bus Alliance.
The Chair, Councillor Robinson commented about that the City Region does not have the budget it needs to cover the network in the City Region. He also complimented the team regarding the contents of the report and highlighted the good news stories including contactless ticketing being available on all buses in the region, Selwyns taking on the Avon Depot in the Wirral and coming into the region and the vision and ambition for the City Region relating to the bus service. He concluded that the nature of the devolved power is very prescriptive in the legislation and everything is being done to put together the business plan and to submit the recommendations for early 2020.
RESOLVED that the Transport Committee notes the contents of the report.