Proposed changes to bus network in St Helens to be unveiled

Changes to the way buses are operated in St Helens will be made public on Friday
Changes to the way buses are operated in St Helens will be made public on Friday

A series of proposals which could radically change the way buses operate in St Helens will be made public on Friday.

Bus operators say the plans will make the network simpler and clearer but precise details have not yet been released.

However, critics fear it will mean a reduction in services and private sector companies seek to reduce costs.

The proposals will be available online from Friday (June 24) and will be open to comment upon until Friday, July 1.

A drop- in event is being held at Church Square between 10am and 5pm on Tuesday, June 28.

A spokesman for Bus Alliance, a formal partnership between operators Arriva and Stagecoach, said: “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, 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.

“The detail for St Helens is still being worked through, however, the principles of the review will include working with the operators to extend or re-route some commercial services to cover areas previously served by publicly supported services.

“To make the network easier to understand there are also plans for services on the same routes to operate under the same number whatever the time of day where possible.

“Working with operators we will endeavour to offer passengers alternative provision available within their area if a service is removed or changed.”

If approved, the plans will comes into effect in September.

Coun Liam Robinson, chairman of Merseytravel, said: “This is about bringing the network up-to-date and making what savings we can for the public purse in the process as we continue to deal with the challenge of government cuts.

“The input we had from St Helens residents on how they use the bus and what would get them to use it more, or even at all, is feeding into the proposals we’re making. We now want comments on these too before we finalise the plans.

“We are working closely and innovatively with operators to develop a modern network where everybody has access to provision.

“This is despite budget pressures which have seen some communities in other areas left without any services.”