Liverpool considers next steps to franchising

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Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram wants a ‘London-style’ network for the region. LIVERPOOL CITY REGION

The Liverpool City Region is pushing ahead with proposals which could lead to the adoption of franchised routes as early as 2026

Liverpool CIty Region Mayor Steve Rotheram’s plans which he believes will reform bus services in the region could take a major step forwards in the coming weeks. The Mayor and the Combined Authority voted unanimously last year to confirm franchising as the region’s preferred future model for running its bus network and services, and now local leaders will be asked to move forward with the next stage of the process. This will mean a formal consultation asking local residents, businesses, trade unions and stakeholders for feedback on the proposals.

A new report containing an assessment of bus franchising, with an independent audit and a recommendation to begin consultation on a proposed franchising scheme is being considered as part of the Mayor’s commitment to bus service reform and his wider ambition to build a London-style transport network for the region.

The Mayor said: “Hundreds of thousands of people in our area rely on buses to get about every day. For many, they are a vital lifeline that connects them to the outside world, to new opportunities, and to each other. Yet, for far too long, people in our communities have been forced to contend with a second-class bus service that’s too confusing, too unreliable, and too expensive. I want this to become a thing of the past – because we simply can no longer afford to accept a public transport service that leaves behind the very people who need it most.

“Using the powers that devolution has given to us, I want to build a London-style integrated transport system in Liverpool City Region that’s faster, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable – and that starts by taking back control of our buses to give us greater control over fares, routes and timetables. As we move a step closer to making that ambition a reality, I want our residents to have their say on our plans. Working together, I want to put the ‘public’ back into public transport that puts passengers before profit.”

Over 80% of public transport journeys, 400,000 a day, are reported to be made by bus in the region. The franchising proposals would give the Combined Authority control over fares and routes, and the plans promise ‘the opportunity for buses to better integrate with other modes of transport’ as well as simpler ticketing. If the reform agenda progresses as planned, the city region expects the first franchised routes in St Helens could be in operation as early as 2026.