Patronage is rising, but franchising remains an option

 

Partners marked the Alliance at an event in September

 

The number of bus journeys young people are making in the Liverpool City Region has risen by 142% in the last three years.

The figure was revealed on September 22 at an event to mark 12 months of the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance – a formal partnership between the region’s transport authority, Merseytravel, and its two biggest operators, Arriva and Stagecoach.

The huge growth in bus use is the result of ‘MyTicket’, a value day ticket offering unlimited bus travel, a 50% discount on adult fares and age eligibility for special tickets and discounted fares raised to include 18 year olds.

This enormous increases mean journeys by all paying passengers have gone up by 16.2% overall since 2014, smashing the 10% target set for the end of 2017/18.

While operating on an informal basis since 2014, a formal partnership agreement was signed between Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach in September 2016 committing to more than £52m of investment in the first year of a joint annual business and investment plan.

I want us to continue to build on this success, looking at what support we could offer to apprentices in their late teens and early twenties

Arriva and Stagecoach argue that the achievements (see below) show that strong and effective partnership working can deliver real results. However, franchising remains among the options that Merseytravel is considering.

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, commented: “I want us to continue to build on this success, looking at what support we could offer to apprentices in their late teens and early twenties.”

 

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS:

  • A 90% score for overall customer satisfaction in Bus Passenger Survey (Transport Focus, Autumn 2016).
  • £37.5m investment in new buses, with the average age of bus fleets under seven years old. Wi-Fi and USB charging points fitted on new buses as standard and retrofitted in older ones. 70% of buses are already low emission.
  • A 142% increase in young people’s bus journeys since 2014 as a result of discounted fares.
  • 16.2% increase in bus journeys by all paying passengers since 2014 – smashing the 10% target set for the end of 2017/18 and bucking the national trend.
  • Customer service training to better help drivers support passengers, with 1,070 due to be trained by March 2018.
  • Pooling resources to clean buses after the morning peak to help keep them tidy and inviting for the rest of the day.
  • A unified ‘better by bus’ campaign, speaking as ‘bus’ not as individual operators with competing messages and tactics.

 

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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