Liverpool City Region’s metro mayor has described franchising as the ‘leading option’ under plans to overhaul the region’s bus services.
City region combined authority papers, published on Thursday (20th February), recommend a ‘detailed and independently audited assessment’ of the proposal.
Liverpool One bus station
The authority said the recommendation of franchising as the preferred option is based on two years of intensive work, including a year-long ‘Big Bus Debate’, in which local people shared their current experiences of bus travel and what they would like to see in the future.
City region mayor Steve Rotheram said: ‘Our communities rely on buses to connect them to work, education and training, family, hospitals and other public services, but too often the current, de-regulated system is letting people down.
‘I am determined to deliver a London-style integrated transport system for the Liverpool City Region. There are a number of ways we can achieve that through the powers in the Bus Services Act, but I am clear that whichever model we choose the outcome must be the same: a bus service that is simple, punctual, reliable and affordable.
‘A system that is designed around what we know our communities and our local economy needs, provides people with a genuine quality alternative to the car and helps to tackle the climate emergency.’
If the combined authority approves the recommendations, Merseytravel officers will complete an assessment of bus franchising, alongside continuing existing partnerships and an Enhanced Partnership model, upon which the public and others would be consulted later in the year.
As a combined authority with an elected mayor, the city region has an easier route to bus franchising than other areas under the Bus Services Act 2017. However, it is only the second such authority to state that franchising is its preferred option.
In October last year, Greater Manchester Combined Authority launched a consultation on its bus franchising plans.