Next stage of Liverpool franchising to be considered

Plans for the franchising of Liverpool’s bus network could move forward with a possible consultation.

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram and the Combined Authority voted unanimously last year to confirm franchising as the Liverpool City Region’s preferred future model for running the bus network and services, joining Manchester in a similar move. Now local leaders will be asked to move forward with the next stage of the process, a formal consultation asking local residents, businesses, trade unions and stakeholders for their feedback on potential plans to bring bus services back into public control.

At next Friday’s Combined Authority meeting a new report containing an assessment of bus franchising, with an independent audit and a recommendation to begin consultation on a proposed franchising scheme will be considered.

Mayor Steve Rotheram has committed to using the powers available to elected mayors through devolution to reform the region’s buses. This is a key part of his wider ambition to build a London-style transport system.

“Working together, I want to put the ‘public’ back into public transport that puts passengers before profit” – Mayor Steve Rotheram

Mayor Steve Rotheram 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.”

Under the franchising plans, the Mayor believes there would be the opportunity for buses to better integrate with other modes of transport and for ticketing to be made simpler and more convenient with the introduction of a tap-and-go system with daily fare caps that will mean passengers always pay the cheapest fare across the whole network.

If agreed at next Friday’s meeting, the Combined Aurthority will move forward and plan a public consultation. A report into the findings will then be produced before a decision is made as to whether or not the organisation should proceed with a franchising scheme. If the reform agenda progresses, the first franchised routes in St Helens could be in operation as early as 2026.

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