Proposals for ‘simpler and clearer’ St Helens bus routes unveiled

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A host of new bus routes, including services to Haydock and Edge Hill University, have been unveiled.

Residents across the borough will now have the chance to comment on the proposals, which bus bosses hope will make the network simpler and clearer.

A service every two hours from St Helens Town Centre to Ormskirk & Edge Hill University from the current three times a day provision.

New Bus Provision for Waterside Village Housing Development in Lea Green.

Improved Sunday morning bus provision between Widnes & St Helens with a regular hourly service, compared with the current two early morning services and then no service until the afternoon.

This follows events in May which saw over 600 people attend and more than 200 offer their feedback on their frequency and pattern of bus use, including those services publicly-funded by Merseytravel, and what might make them use buses more.

St Helens is the second area to be reviewed as part of a wider review of the whole Liverpool City Region bus network over the next 12 months.

Historically, bus routes have been considered on a piecemeal basis and the idea is to consider the commercial network and the supported network – that which relies on public subsidy via Merseytravel – as a whole for the first time to ensure it best reflects current working and living patterns, new developments and how they are served.

This is one of the first undertakings of the Bus Alliance, a formal partnership with operators Arriva and Stagecoach, with the aim of transforming bus services to encourage more people to take the bus. However, bus reviews involve all bus

operators.

Part of the review has been looking at the current supported bus network and considering how increasingly limited public resources can be focussed where there is most need.

Impacts of changes have been mitigated by re-routing or extending existing commercial services where possible to negate the need for a service supported by public funding.

To make the network easier to understand there are also plans to make the evening network to reflect the daytime services both in route and number

The proposals endeavour to ensure that everyone is within reasonable distance of a bus service.

As well as a new direct service to Haydock Industrial Estate and improved provision to Edge Hill University, other proposals include new bus provision for Waterside Village Housing Development in Lea Green and improved Sunday morning provision between Widnes and St Helens.

The changes would come into effect in September 2016.

Coun Liam Robinson, chairman of Merseytravel said: “We are grateful for the input we had from St Helens residents on their patterns of bus use and what would get them to use it more. We now want comments on these detailed proposals before we finalise the plans.

“We’ve worked hard with bus operators in re-scoping the network and believe the proposals will offer a network that is clearer, simpler and with some real benefits.

“We recognise that there may be some proposed changes that don’t suit everybody with some people having to work further to catch a bus, but we’ve been looking at how we can best meet people’s needs within budget constraints due to government spending cuts.

“This is us working innovatively, through the Bus Alliance when other areas outside the Liverpool City Region, due to budget pressures, are seeing some communities left without any bus services.”

The Bus Alliance is an agreement between Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach to improve bus travel for people across the Liverpool City Region. In time, it is hoped that other bus operators will join the Alliance.

The Alliance’s ambition is for a thriving, affordable and sustainable bus network that offers the customer a value for money and hassle-free journey experience - leading to an increase in fare paying passengers.  It will look at creating simpler networks and fare structures to more investment in the buses themselves. Encouraging more people to travel by bus drives investment and means less reliance on the public purse.

Key work areas will include:

• A review of the City Region bus network;

• Investment in new and greener vehicles;

• On board Wi-Fi and at-seat USB charging points on all new vehicles;

• Improved bus links to and from John Lennon Airport;

• Streamlined service changes to make bus services more stable;

• Simpler ticketing and a review of zonal structures and pricing;

• Review of all customer information including more Real Time Information;

• Better integration of bus and rail services;

• Improved Customer Service training for all bus drivers.