We’re all getting on the buses in Merseyside – bucking a national decline

Over the past three years the number of bus journeys taken by people in the Liverpool city region has risen 16.2% with the number of bus journeys taken by young people soaring 142%. Tony McDonough reports

Stagecoach is a member of the City Region Bus Alliance and has seen passenger numbers rise

 

Across the UK the numbers if people catching the bus has declined – however, here in Merseyside there has been a significant increase.

Over the past three years the number of bus journeys taken by people has soared 16.2% which exceeds a 10% target set for the end of 2017/18.

The rise in use of buses among young people is even more remarkable with a 142% rise over the same period.

The figures came from the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance, a partnership between transport authority Merseytravel and the area’s two biggest operators, Arriva and Stagecoach.

Actual numbers of passengers are not made public as the operators regard such data as being commercially sensitive.

‘Mode of choice’

The Alliance claims its push to make taking the bus “a mode of choice, rather than last resort” has encouraged more people onto public transport.

During the three-year period there has also been £37.5 investment in new vehicles with a growth in services such as free on-board wifi access and USB charging points.

The rise in bus journeys contrasts sharply with figures from elsewhere in the UK.

Figures for April to June 2017 showed year-on-year decreases in England (-1.6%), Scotland (-2%) and Wales (-1.9%). Within England, the decline was -2.4% outside of London.

However, in Merseyside the region’s smart card for public transport – Walrus – has seen 2.5m tickets loaded onto it since its launch in November 2014 making it the most used outside London.

There was also a 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.

Arriva is also seeing a rise in bus use in Merseyside

 

The Alliance also claims a major factor in the rise in bus journeys among the young has been as a result of MyTicket – a value day ticket.

This offers 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.

Significant investment

Mark Threapleton, managing director of Stagecoach, UK Bus – England & Wales, said: “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.”

And Kevin O’Connor, managing director, Arriva, UK Bus, added: “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.”

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