Young people in the Liverpool City Region buck trend of national bus passenger decline
The number of bus journeys young people are making in the Liverpool City Region has risen by 142% in the last three years as a result of a trailblazing approach to bus.
The figure was revealed at an event on 22 September to mark 12 months of the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance– a formal partnership between Merseytravel and the area’s two biggest operators, Arriva and Stagecoach.
Since 2014, bus journeys made by all paying passengers have gone up by 16.2 per cent overall , smashing the 10 per cent target set for the end of 2017/18, and bucking the trend of long term bus passenger decline nationally.
The Bus Alliance is focussed on making bus a mode of choice, rather than last resort, encouraging those people who already get the bus to make more journeys, and encouraging people who currently don’t use it, to give it a try.
Ultimately, increasing the number of fare paying passengers means more revenue and greater investment to further improve services.
While operating on an informal basis since 2014, a formal partnership agreement was signed between Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach in September 2016 committing to more than £52 million invested in a the first year of a joint annual business and investment plan.
Key achievements to date include:
- 90% score for overall customer satisfaction in Bus Passenger Survey (Transport Focus, March 2017 – the Liverpool City Region’s best score to date and higher than other Metropolitan areas which scored an 85% average.
- £37.5m investment in new buses, with the average age of bus fleets under seven years old. WiFi and USB charging points fitted on new buses as standard and retrofitted in older ones. 70% of buses are already low emission.
- A 142% increase in young people’s bus journeys as a result of MyTicket– a value day ticket offering unlimited bus travel, a 50% discount on adult fares, and age eligibility up for special tickets and discounted fares up to and including 18 years old.
- Walrus, the Liverpool Region’s smart card, is the most used outside London, with 2.5m tickets loaded onto it since its launch in November 2014.
- Customer service training to better help drivers support passengers, with 1070 due to be trained by March 2018, building on already high customer satisfaction with our drivers (91%- Transport Focus, March 2017)
- Pooling resources to clean buses after the morning peak to help keep them tidy and inviting for the rest of the day.
- Trailblazing ‘better by bus’ campaign, speaking as ‘bus’ not as individual operators with competing messages and tactics.
Said Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor:
“Bus is often the forgotten hero in the contribution it makes to the economy and in supporting communities. It helps people get to work, education, do the shop or make their hospital appointments and is responsible for 136 million journeys a year in our City Region alone.
“While there is much more to do to improve the bus offer, the successes of the Bus Alliance are already notable and encouraging, not least the massive increase in young people taking the bus, giving them greater freedom and opportunity. I want us to continue to build on this success, looking at what support we could offer to apprentices in their late teens and early twenties.”
Said Kevin O’Connor, MD, Arriva, UK Bus:
“Arriva is a proud partner of the Merseyside Bus Alliance. Our aim is to get more people travelling by bus, both through promoting the benefits and improving the experience. From planning their trip right through to getting off at their destination, we are working to ensure the best possible travel experience for our customers. We look forward to working in partnership to build on the success of the Alliance.”
Said Mark Threapleton, MD, Stagecoach, UK Bus- England & Wales:
“The first formal year of the Bus Alliance has achieved a huge amount and shows that strong and effective partnership working can deliver real results.
“In the Liverpool City Region we’re seeing more people taking the bus, higher passenger satisfaction and significant investment in new vehicles for local communities. We hope to create a virtuous circle where patronage continues to increase, further investment is made and the local bus network sees continued growth and further improvement and expansion.
“There is still work to be done but this is a very positive start to the Alliance which we will work hard to continue.”
Said David Sidebottom, Passenger Director at independent watchdog, Transport Focus:
“More than nine in 10 bus passengers in the Liverpool City Region are satisfied with their service. This shows that the Bus Alliance’s approach of listening to passengers, and focussing on their key priorities –a punctual, reliable, and value for money service on clean and comfortable buses – can make a real difference.”