To consider a report of Merseytravel on key bus issues relating to the Second Quarter of 2018/19 which provides the Second Quarterly Bus Alliance update of 2018/19, the latest progress on improving the procurement, management and quality of supported services through a series of reforms, and progress on developing the commitment of the LCR Devolution Deal in respect of improving bus services.
The Committee considered a report from Matthew Goggins, Head of Bus relating to the Second Quarter of 2018/19 with an update on the Bus Alliance and the latest progress being made to improve the procurement, management and quality of supported services and through the Liverpool City Region Devolution Deal in respect of improving bus services.
Matt Goggins highlighted the following: -
· there was a focus on developing improvement plans on key corridors with the biggest impact;
· the approach matched up to Combined Authority priorities in relation to Transforming Cities Funding;
· the main aims of this approach were to improve bus journey times and the customer experience;
· it was about taking a whole corridor approach and looking at the whole bus offer;
· the Bus Alliance was progressing the 2019/20 business plan which was in development;
· some of the milestones achieved this quarter included a review of the Bus Control Room, improved communication between the control room and staff, daily bus network performance report;
· a new process for consulting on new commercial bus changes;
· there was a successful trial of the bus priority along the 10 bus route where bus and traffic systems could speak with each other and give greenlight priority to late buses;
· introducing proactive monitoring of shelters and bus stops to drive improvement internally with the process and the suppliers; and
· working with Stagecoach and Volvo for an electric bus trial using pantograph opportunity charging.
Members enquired about the following: -
· since the report was produced was there any updates on the Avon bus issues, as Wirral has been badly affected on the 16 and 17 routes, with schools and hospitals affected and some pensioners having to pay a £17 taxi fare to get to and from the hospital;
· the public need to be told what the situation is with the Avon buses as it is not easy explaining the process to the residents when they do not how things are done;
· the survey on the bus routes does not reflect any comments from customers about parking or cost of parking, was the question asked;
· there is a particular perception about buses in the region, there are more bad news reported in the press about cancellations etc., need some more good news stories e.g. electric buses and apprenticeship discount cards;
· the A57 route through Knowsley is a positive scheme, but when will it take place, how much will it cost and will the outcomes be measured;
· why is the 61A bus off at the moment;
· the 12 week protocol that has been developed and agreed, how was it applied to the 139 bus service in August;
· regular bus users depend on the reliability, punctuality and cleanliness of the buses and for the last 3 weeks Arriva buses have been unreliable, late, dirty and smelly along certain routes in the City;
· will the bus alliance look at the amount of routes taken off in Knowsley;
· there is an emphasis on on-line surveys, but should it be at Stage 5 or Stage 1 as referred to in the report.
Matt Goggins informed the Committee that: -
· The Avon update would be included in the next quarterly update to the Committee, but it should be noted that the bus systems allows for changes to be made within 70 days and the new protocols were put in place for that reason. The Avon procurement process is still ongoing and the gaps are currently being looked at, but the Avon provisions would have cost an additional £1m above replacement proposals on a like for like basis and that was not currently affordable.
· He would check the survey and see what was asked. It was entirely focussed on the impact of the marketing campaign and its successes and the bus offer.
· It’s the nature of what normally gets reported and it is mainly the bad news stories, e.g. Avon going into administration and the impact of the buses being removed. Unfortunately the good news of the replacements would not attract as much publicity. The Big Bus Debate was launched positively.
· Demand responsive transport is new in the UK and new to the region and provides an opportunity to learn a lot about how it is rolled out the lessons to be learnt and the for it to be shared more widely.
· The A57 route is being looked at in more detail and taking into account certain factors with an agreed approach and an opportunity to focus on specific areas. The whole bus offer and how it links to cycling, walking and rail will also be taken into account and working around thematic areas as well.
· Regarding the Arriva buses, he would be happy to feed back to the operator regarding the reliability, punctuality and cleanliness of the buses. He advised he was aware that it could be a challenge for operators to build appropriate time into their schedules, but it should be noted that there are other road users and it can be a challenging environment for the bus operators to run on time.
· In respect of the 139 service this happened before the protocol was agreed and implemented so the protocol was not utilised. It would now be applied to future changes.
· In relation to the 16 and 17 routes, there has been a bus network review around the district with two aims to makes the links it needs, to access to the bus network and the financial challenges in the network being addressed. It has not happened in every district and the Bus Alliance is aware of the details, but unfortunately it will impact upon some customers until the issues are addressed.
· In terms of the online process, the first thing that is done is to speak to political stakeholders so that they are aware of proposals and can respond to constituents. The online surveys are important as it can be done quickly, it may not be the best way for some people, but provides a good strong response with good feedback.
The Chair thanked the officers on behalf of the Committee for the exceptional work that went into capturing the feedback and collating the report and that the issues raised in relation to Avon provide an example of challenges around the current bus system. There is nothing to assist quick intervention when things go wrong with the bus network or cross subsidise.
RESOLVED that the Transport Committee thanked Matt Goggins for presenting the report and the contents of the report be noted.