Green light for pioneering bus alliance

04 Dec 2015

MCSL Smartcard jointStagecoach is part of a new formal ‘Bus Alliance’ with transport body Merseytravel and operator Arriva which aims to grow the number of fare paying passengers, improving customer satisfaction and driving up investment for the benefit of all who use bus services.

The alliance has ambitious growth targets of a 10 per cent increase in passenger journeys – the equivalent of over nine million more journeys – by April 2017.

With 80 per cent of public transport journeys in the Liverpool City Region being made by bus, but only 10 per cent of these being commuter journeys, there is potential for 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 Wi-Fi and at-seat USB charging points, and an aim for existing buses to have Wi-Fi + USB 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, ensuring a clear network that is easier to understand, encourages growth and is 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. This makes bus services more stable and will allow information to be updated more easily for the benefit of customers.
  • 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.
  • Delivering new bespoke Customer Service training for all drivers.
  • The Bus Alliance will look to build on the good work that has already been achieved such as investments in fleet by the operators and joint work with Merseytravel to improve the cleanliness of buses.

The introduction of the £2 all day bus ticket for young people, MyTicket, and the increase in age eligibility for young people’s fares, up to and including the age of 18 across much of the network, is a particular recent success with the City Region now having the best young people’s ticketing offer for bus outside of London.

The Bus Alliance will take this work to the next stage through an investment plan to deliver even more improvements for customers.

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, benefiting customers and the wider economy, building on what we've already achieved with young people’s tickets and smart ticketing.”

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."

Commenting on the formation of the Merseyside Bus Alliance, 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”