Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, told bus operators to ‘work with us and change’ or face losing control of routes and fares at a recent council meeting discussing city centre bus hub proposals.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the Mayor – who is up for re-election next year – said he thought the city should follow in the footsteps of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and propose a franchising system.
“I say this to the bus companies: if you don’t change we will come for you,” he said.
“Re-regulation is coming, and if that doesn’t happen our combined authority can buy new fleets of buses.
“Work with us and change or we will change you.”
Despite Andy Burnham’s plan proving unpopular with operators and industry figures, Joe Anderson told the Echo that he is prepared to fight back to implement a franchising system: “I’m not frightened of any threats from bus companies – I’ll threaten them right back.
“As a combined authority we’ve got £130m that we could invest in a new fleet of green buses.”
A spokesperson for Stagecoach said: “Through our Merseyside Bus Alliance, we have already delivered improvements for local bus users including better value fares, integrated smart ticketing, network improvements and investment in cleaner, greener vehicles.
“This has resulted in more people using the bus network since the Alliance was formed.
“Franchising is a one-way ticket to higher taxes for local people and will not solve the key practical challenges needed to improve bus services and air quality, such as car congestion.
“Only 6% of pollution comes from buses, while around 40% is from diesel cars. In London – currently the only UK city to have a bus franchising system – passenger decline is faster than anywhere else in the country, routes are being cut and the bus network is £700m in the red.
“We are very clear that a partnership approach between bus operators and the public sector offers the best and most cost-effective route to deliver a transport system fit for a growing and inclusive 21st century Merseyside city-region.”
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