Arriva and Stagecoach are to form a formal Bus Alliance with transport body Merseytravel which aims to grow the number of fare paying passengers, improve customer satisfaction and drive up investment.
The alliance has ambitious growth targets of a 10% increase in passenger journeys – the equivalent of over nine million more journeys – by April 2017.
Currently 80% of public transport journeys in the Liverpool City Region being made by bus, but only 10% of these are commuter journeys. The Bus Alliance believes there is potential for the bus to play a much more significant role in growing the City Region’s economy, better linking people with jobs and opportunities.
The Bus Alliance will take a City Region-wide approach looking at matching bus routes to demand, the clarity of fare structures and value for money, the quality of vehicles, how easy it is to get information, reliability and punctuality of services and the standard of customer service.
Key areas of work for the Bus Alliance will include:-
- Increased levels of investment in new and greener vehicles;
- All new vehicles to have WiFi and at-seat USB charging points, and an aim for existing buses to have this technology retrofitted;
- Development of a clear point of contact for dealing with customer feedback;
- Development of City Centre Bus Routing strategy, making journeys quicker and more direct;
- A review of the City Region bus network, making it easier to understand, encourage growth and less reliant on public subsidies;
- Improved bus links to and from John Lennon Airport to Liverpool South Parkway and the City Centre;
- Streamlined service changes from January 2016, with only three change dates a year, common to all operators;
- Review of zonal structures and pricing to make ticket buying more simple;
- Review of all customer information including further development of Real-Time Information;
- Development of an approach to better integrate bus and rail; and
- Delivering new bespoke customer service training for all drivers.
Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel, commented: “Giving the green light to this pioneering approach to bus means we can make meaningful improvements now, working to make it a mode of choice rather than last resort.
“Rail gets the attention but eight in 10 public transport journeys in the Liverpool City Region are actually made by bus. Bus is arguably more flexible and improvements can be made, and noticed, much more quickly.
“Together with operators, we have a real chance to do things differently, benefitting customers and the wider economy, building on what we’ve already achieved with young people’s tickets and smart ticketing.”
Phil Stone, Regional Managing Director of Arriva North West and Wales, said: “The Merseyside Bus Alliance will first and foremost improve bus services for passengers by setting firm targets for all operators and stakeholders.
“We are delighted to be part of a stable partnership which will ultimately deliver better journeys, new vehicles, innovations for customers, improved infrastructure and allow us to make longer-term investment plans for Merseyside”
Gary Nolan, Regional Director North, Stagecoach UK Bus said: “We are pleased to be part of the Alliance, and working together with our partners will provide greater momentum to further improve the quality of bus services across the City Region.”