Residents in St Helens have helped shape the borough’s bus network following a consultation on plans to create a simpler, clearer network.
The changes and improvements will come into effect on Sunday, April 28 and include:
Current links and frequencies are maintained for the majority of services;
Evening and Sunday service remains largely unchanged, although some times are revised;
Service 603 is replaced with an extended 22 which will now operate via Garswood, providing better links for Haydock Industrial Estate, Earlestown, and Newton-le-Willows;
Service 156 revised to operate between Lea Green and Garswood. It will continue to serve Haydock Industrial Estate as well as serve St Helens Hospital and Liverpool Road (Haydock);
New service 39 introduced to replace part of the withdrawn 140 daytime service;
Evening and Sunday service 140 renumbered 39A, timings are revised but the route remains unchanged;
St Helens is the first district to have its services reviewed for the second time. This followed the first network review in 2016.
The bus service review is one of the key areas of work for 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. The network reviews do involve all operators though.
Part of the review has been looking at the current supported bus network and considering how increasingly limited public resources can be focused where there is most need.
An online survey gave members of the public the chance to give their thoughts on the initial proposed changes.
A drop-in event also took place, in the Hardshaw Centre, so that members of the public could speak to Merseytravel staff about the proposals and give their feedback.
This consultation period followed a first phase in July and August 2018, which saw people offer their feedback on their frequency and pattern of bus use, including those services publically funded by Merseytravel, and what might make them use buses more.
As has been the case with earlier bus service reviews, 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. Some original proposals have been updated based on feedback from the consultation.
Coun Liam Robinson, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Portfolio Holder, said: “The review of the St Helens bus network has resulted in a number of changes which we believe will help to make a clearer, simple bus network for the area.
"We’ve worked hard to maintain the vast majority of services and have been able to extend some routes and even add new ones.
“With the operators, we’ve devised the new network and have listened to people who live and work in the area during the consultations, making some changes to our initial proposals as a result.
“This is another example of us working innovatively through the Bus Alliance to provide cost-effective services, at a time when some areas outside our City Region have communities left with no services at all.”
Full details of the changes can be found on the Merseytravel website