Put the corpy in charge again, says Larry Neild, in wake of underwhelming shake-up
BRING back the corpy buses.
That’s the message that Merseytravel bosses should, perhaps, seriously consider as they embark, this week, on the most underwhelming shake-up of bus services on Merseyside.
There are promises: USB power points so mobile devices can be charged, on board wifi, real time arrival info.
However, the popular Soccerbus is being given the red card at the end of the season, and two of the city centre “C” services are disappearing. Meanwhile, the 68 from Aigburth to Bootle is to operate - cue the drum roll - hourly on Sundays.
And that is essentially it.
The way to encourage more people to use public transport is to make it so attractive and easy it would be crazy to do anything else
But some of the biggest bus bugbears are not even on the conductor’s radar.
Since a slice of the Liverpool One bus station was taken over as the National Express coach terminus, bus passengers are chucked off their rides halfway up Hanover Street. Not very convenient if you are heading to the Albert Dock, or the museum at the Pier Head.
It’s even worse if you want to get to the business end of the city centre quickly. No regular service from south Liverpool goes there.
Though the mighty steps needed to be scaled to reach the peak of Chavasse Park on the long trek to Old Hall Street are probably good for the vascular system.
Even at Liverpool South Parkway, the passengers are now thrown off the buses at the furthest distance possible from the new ticket office.
The one good thing about Liverpool’s bus service is that it makes you appreciate and cherish the car more than ever.
Timetables state service frequencies, but some could well qualify for Booker fiction prizes.
They might state a bus runs every seven or eight minutes, but that doesn’t mean you won’t wait double that time on occasions.
What about more limited stop services to appeal to commuters not wishing to take the slow coach to town?
Some years ago thousands of pounds were spent on new bus stops with real time info boards. But the system didn’t work and was abandoned.
It seems the love-hate relationship between people and buses in Liverpool will continue, ensuring king car rules the roads and the abandoned bus lanes.
The way to encourage more people to use public transport is not to price them out of their cars, but to make it so attractive and easy it would be crazy to do anything else.
Whether it will make any real difference, the people of Liverpool are being given the opportunity to comment on proposals to make the city’s bus network simpler and clearer (their words, not mine) for the next week or so.
'People will have to walk further to catch a bus'
According the Merseytravel, among the proposed changes there are improvements to services at Sefton Park and better connectivity between Huyton and Belle Vale. The C4, C5 and 101 services will be withdrawn, with alternative provision available along each route.
It is also proposed that the Soccerbus service, the matchday service to Everton and Liverpool Football clubs which runs from Sandhills station, and is currently subsidised by Merseytravel, will be withdrawn after the end of the current football season, though discussions are on-going with both football clubs to find a possible solution.
“Historically bus routes have been considered on a piecemeal basis and the idea is to consider the commercial network and the supported network – that which relies on public subsidy via Merseytravel – as a whole for the first time to ensure it best reflects current working and living patterns, new developments and how they are served,” said a spokeswoman for Merseytravel.
Part of the review has been looking at the current supported bus network and considering how increasingly limited public resources can be focussed where there is most need.
Impacts of changes have been mitigated by re-routing some existing commercial services where possible to negate the need for a service supported by public funding.
The proposed changes would come into effect in July 2017.
Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel said: “As has been the case throughout this city-region wide bus network review, the input we had from Liverpool residents on their patterns of bus use and what would get them to use it more has been extremely helpful and insightful.
“We now want comments on these detailed proposals before we finalise the plans. We’re worked hard with bus operators in re-scoping the network and believe these proposals will offer a network that is clearer, simpler and with some real benefits for the people of Liverpool.
“We recognise that the proposed changes may not suit everybody and in some cases, people will have to walk further to catch a bus, but we’ve had to look at how we can best meet people’s needs within budget constraints due to government spending cuts.”
Proposals will be available for view and comment on via an online survey at www.merseytravel.gov.uk/busrev... from 9am on Monday 6th March until 5pm on Thursday 16th March.
There will also be three drop-in events where members of the public can speak to Merseytravel staff about the proposals and give their feedback. These will take place on the following days:
• Friday 10th March, 9am to 3:30pm – Belle Vale Shopping Centre
• Monday 13th March, 10am to 3pm – Queen Square Bus Station
• Tuesday 14th March, 10am to 3pm – Tesco Park Road, Toxteth