LCR bus, p Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

The first franchised services would be implemented in St Helens. Credit: via Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Liverpool City Region moves to franchise buses

In the same week that Greater Manchester launched its Bee Network, the city region has announced that it could become the second area outside of London to run a publicly operated network.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is set to sign off on proposals next Friday to launch a franchised bus network and regain control of its buses 40 years after the abolition of road service licensing outside of Greater London. This abolition removed the public sector’s role in fare-setting, routes, and bus frequencies.

A franchised bus system means that the public sector would take back the power to set bus fares and routes, enabling the combined authority to coordinate the bus network based on what passengers need with the added power to reinvest any profit made back into improving services.

Bus operators would be commissioned by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to run the services across Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral. This is currently the case in London and is being implemented in Greater Manchester.

Furthermore, a publicly run network would allow buses to better integrate with other modes of transport.

More than 6,000 recently took part in a consultation on the proposals, with almost 70% of the public supporting a franchising model.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram highlighted that around 82% of all public transport journeys are taken by bus in the city region, stating that it is a “vital” public service.

“For far too long, passengers in our area have been forced to contend with a second-class service that’s too confusing, too expensive, and too unreliable.

“Our bus network is broken and residents want it to be fixed. I won’t accept a public transport system that leaves behind the very people who need it most.”

If approved, there would be a three year transition period to allow network improvement measures such as the reintroduction of bus lanes in Liverpool. The franchised services would be phased across the city region, with the first expected to arrive in St Helens by 2026.

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It’s good to know that Steve and Andy talk!

By Anonymous

Fantastic news , long overdue !

By Andy

82% of public transport journeys are taken by bus? Not surprising when the majority of the city region has no Merseyrail system near them , nor a tram.
Merseyrail mostly winds down after 7pm so why would you hang around for half an hour waiting for the next train, I did recently and it was cancelled and therefore waited one hour. Rotheram only talks up buses cos he can’t provide an alternative, he hasn’t got the vision to extend Merseyrail or pursue a tram.

By Anonymous

What is the projected cost of this new arrangement? I have seen figures that suggest it will be in the region of £240m per annum. Where will this money come from? Will there be better North/South connectivity, plus bus route access to Lime Street Station from the South of the region ? Our ageing population are not all capable of walking or cycling everywhere

By Anonymous

This is of course really good news. It would be interesting to see how they integrate the buses in with Merseyrail. I imagine they have further to go, as unless things have changed, I didn’t notice tap in/out on Merseyrail when I was last there


Better Public transport is needed everywhere the buses change the lights in Bradford.

By Anonymous

They need to make the buses safer – not nice getting a bus from Queen’s Square when people are taking Spice behind you. People getting on threatening bus drivers etc.
we do need a tram too!
All these fabulous shops opening at Liverpool One and no infra to get people there!

By Bob Dawson

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