Agenda item

Quarterly Bus Update

To consider an update on key bus issues relating to the first quarter of 2019/2020.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report from Matt Goggins, Head of Bus relating to an update on key issues in the first quarter of 2019/20 between April to June 2019.

 

Matt Goggins highlighted the following: -

 

Bus Patronage

·         The target initially set was to grow by 10% over 4 years, but the target had been exceeded within 2 years and a new target had been set at 20%.

·         Patronage has been built up with a 9% growth in fare paying patronage.

·         Adult patronage for the first time has increased and is driving growth.

 

Bus Passenger Survey

·         The overall satisfaction was at 91%.

·         Joint highest of any metropolitan area in satisfaction.

·         There has been a 5% increase with satisfaction relating to value for money.

·         There has been an increase in satisfaction relating to “waiting facilities”.

·         Good levels of satisfaction relating to personal safety and security through practical measures and communicating those messages to passengers.

 

The Bus Alliance

·         Completed procurement for 5 green bus core routes, across four districts to improve reliability and punctuality of the network.

·         100% Bus Alliance operator buses are now fitted with contactless technology, soon to be 100% of all buses across the City Region.

·         Completed independent evaluation relating to the “Better by Bus” campaign, with over 40% of people being aware of the campaign. It has been changing perceptions and influencing behaviours through key messages being communicated.

·         The City Centre Bus Re-routing project was underway and there has been about 825 comments submitted via the web portal.

·         The introduction of the second of the St Helens bus network reviews has been completed in April 2019.

 

Bus Reform Business Case

Currently analysing the data submitted by bus operators to support the Business Case relating to the Bus Services Act 2017 devolution deal. The data relates to revenue and commercial costs provided by the bus operators who have been co-operating.

 

Other Updates

·         Ticket machine upgrade was not just about ticketing machines being installed, but it was also about real time tracking to improve reliability and punctuality and improve the accuracy of arrival times of the buses, this has been well received.

·         New contracts embedded in Wirral relating to change of operators which has gone smoothly.

·         Customer information improvements relating to information being displayed together with rail connectivity information has seen improvements.

 

Members raised the following concerns –

  • Communities faced with operators changing routes on a regular basis e.g. 41, 22 and 41A which has been affecting connectivity to local hospitals for residents and communities feeling isolated with even more decreasing and more centralised NHS services to the main hospital.
  • Many routes have been reduced or Sunday Services taken away, but information has been advertised on noticeboards for Sundays as a “Bank Holiday” service, but if there is no Sunday services, how can there be a Bank Holiday Service.
  • Arriva has agreed a trial run for 6 months for the 492 and 495 buses that starts in September, but no one knows about this as there has been no advertising for this trial service for the route to be used.
  • The 10A bus has been diverted to Liverpool One bus station via Lewis’, why?
  • The 47 bus route has been proposed to be taken away by Arriva which affects the Ince Blundell area directly, the Councillor had spoken to Arriva who have said that they don’t take into account the impact on communities when reviewing bus routes, as it is all about the business case.
  • Has any analysis been done relating to Carbon reduction and the mobile shift from cars to buses.
  • 141 bus, issue of not running regularly with a gap of 6 weeks for elderly people prior to the new services being introduced from September 2019.
  • A number of services have been cut back e.g. 137, 138 being reduced to Whiston Hospital which people use to access hospitals, getting to and from work and the crematorium, need to hold the bus service operators to account.
  • There was a half hour service from St Helens to Rainford previously which meant that every half hour 1 bus service goes through Eccleston which goes past the crematorium. With the bus services being cut back along the 137 and 138 route, it would leave 1 bus service every 2 hours to the crematorium from St Helens, which is unacceptable.
  • Public services being delivered by private companies means that Merseytravel suffers the consequences as the public believe the bus services are run by Merseytravel, need to hold the operators to account.
  • People worried about what happens when they get into town given all the bus re-routing work currently taking place in the City Centre especially on the 79 bus route e.g. getting to and from the business district, are there any shuttle buses.
  • Is there any consideration by the bus companies relating to the lack of corporate social responsibility and whether or not they are taking it seriously. There should be an ethical procurement process in future when contracts are being negotiated to involve taking into account any social impact analysis and about the ethical levels of profit and what may be acceptable.
  • Really good report with a front page that provides a good summary with all the relative information. It is appreciated that information is fed back relating to the surveys.
  • Members expressed frustration in respect of the current model for the provision of bus services and looks forward to using the Bus Services Act 2017.

 

Councillor John Stockton the new Lead Member for Bus informed the Committee that he will provide feedback to the bus operators on the many issues and concerns raised relating to the social impact of removing bus routes.

 

Matt Goggins informed the Committee that –

·         There was a lot of disruption happening in the City Centre relating to the City Centre Re-routing Strategy at the moment and services are being diverted to keep them moving and to balance the network dynamic around the City Centre.

·         Information has been communicated with the customers and additional staff have been deployed on Victoria Street and other areas during peak time to keep the network running as effectively as possible.

·         His team were aware of the 47 bus route and the concerns raised and waiting on some positive news from the bus operator which will be shared with Councillors.

·         No analysis had been completed in relation to ‘social impacts’, but will look into tracking it in the future.

·         Procurement processes are ethical and will look into the suggestions being made regarding contracts and ethical pricing and the examples.

·         There are a lot of complex issues with interpreting the legislation relating to the Bus Services Act 2017 as it has not been done before but things are on track and will provide updates to the Committee as it progresses.

 

The Chair, Councillor Robinson commented about real time information becoming reliable relating to bus arrivals, and in relation to climate emergency and 70% of the fleet already with low emission targets already being met and exceeding other sectors of the wider transport network. He also expressed his gratitude to Matt Goggins and the rest of the bus team for their continued hard work and the progress being made with discussions involving the bus operators and consultations. Insist upon consultation, few parts of the country have the consultations in advance, equally shows how hard the team work. Beholden to the decisions of the private company and we need a different approach and how we can use devolved powers and bring forward the recommendation early next year.

 

 

RESOLVED that the Transport Committee: -

 

a)    notes the contents of the report; and

 

b)    an update be provided to the Committee at its next meeting relating to the issues and concerns raised by members of the Committee.

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