Around 11,000 passengers a day will be affected by the plans to alter city centre bus routes to cut congestion and pollution – but not everyone is happy. Tony McDonough reports
A major overhaul of city centre bus routes will impact on 11,000 passengers a day when they are implemented early next year.
A public consultation on the proposed changes, designed to link in with Liverpool City Council’s £47m City Centre Connectivity Scheme (LCCCS), has been launched and they include a bus hub for Old Haymarket which has met with strong opposition from local councillors and businesses with one councillor calling it “madness”.
LCCCS includes lane reductions on The Strand and Victoria Street, the closure of Mann Island and Lime Street to through traffic, and the creation of the bus hub which aims to reduce the number of buses parking on-street and travelling around the city centre.
Route alterations will affect 31 of the 67 routes into the city centre will see their routes altered with the plan being to reduce the number of buses moving through the city centre, easing congestion, tackling pollution and making moving around the city easier for cyclists and pedestrians.
Bus boarding and alighting points will be generally be focused in or around Queen Square and Liverpool One bus stations. However, for those who need it, a frequent cross-city bus service will run between both bus stations.
Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “Merseytravel and bus operators are supporting Liverpool City Council in its vision for a transformed, cleaner, greener city centre. To achieve this there has to be changes to how traffic moves around, including buses.
“Some people will be able to get on and off where they do now, others may be closer to their end destination and some may need to walk a bit further, and that’s why there will be cross-city bus provision between the two bus stations for those who need it.
“We encourage people to look at the re-routing proposals so they can be prepared for what it means for them from January 2020. We do welcome people’s comments, but we have to be clear that we will be limited in any changes we can make because of the changing layout of the city centre.”
On its twitter fee a campaign group against the Old Haymarket bus hub claimed the plan “keeps thousands of buses in a tiny area of the city that cannot cope with it”.
And local Labour councillor Nick Small, also an opponent of the hub, told LBN: “The Old Haymarket Bus Hub plans have been around for seven years. What may have been right then, isn’t fit for the future.
“The Commercial District SRF shows the potential of the area. Taking the car parks away and greening up the Queensway Tunnel entrances could improve the area so much more, create new pedestrian routes between Lime Street, the Museum Quarter and the Commercial District and attract significant new investment into the city.
“Ploughing ahead with the city bus hub now, while the ink is barely dry on the SRF and when a major revision of nearly half of all bus routes has been announced today, is madness.”
Information on proposed service changes, including simple maps for each route affected, can be found at www.merseytravel.gov.uk/citycentrebus. People will have opportunity to comment via the website or discuss the changes at various drop-in sessions until Friday, August 2. Dates and times are available online.