Bus travel by young peo­ple rises by 142%

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews - BY JOHN MCDOUGALL john.mcdougall@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @JMacD1988

YOUNG peo­ple are buck­ing a na­tional trend and mak­ing more bus jour­neys across the Liver­pool City Re­gion (LCR) which in­cludes Halton.

Fig­ures show trips made in the six ar­eas which make up the LCR by young peo­ple has risen by 142% in the last three years as a re­sult of a trail­blaz­ing ap­proach to buses.

The LCR Bus Al­liance has been up and run­ning for 12 months and is 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% over­all, smash­ing the 10% tar­get set for the end of 2017-18, and buck­ing the trend of long-term bus pas­sen­ger de­cline na­tion­ally.

While op­er­at­ing on an in­for­mal ba­sis since 2014, a for­mal part­ner­ship agree­ment was signed be­tween the three firms in Septem­ber 2016 com­mit- ting to more than £52m in­vested in the first year of a joint an­nual busi­ness and in­vest­ment plan.

Key achieve­ments to date in­clude £37.5m in­vest­ment in new buses, with the av­er­age age of fleets un­der seven years old, Wi-Fi and USB charg­ing points fit­ted on new ve­hi­cles as stan­dard and retro­fit­ted in older ones, of which 70% of buses are al­ready low emis­sion.

The 142% in­crease in young peo­ple’s bus jour­neys are a re­sult of MyTicket which 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.

Metro mayor Steve Rotheram said: “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 20s.”

Other moves as part of the part­ner­ship has in­volved pool­ing re­sources to clean buses af­ter the morn­ing peak to help keep them tidy and invit­ing for the rest of the day, and im­prov­ing cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing to bet­ter help driv­ers sup­port pas­sen­gers.

In­de­pen­dent watch­dog Trans­port Fo­cus pas­sen­ger di­rec­tor David Side­bot­tom said: “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 fo­cus­ing on their key pri­or­i­ties – a punc­tual, re­li­able, and value for money ser­vice on clean and com­fort­able buses – can make a real dif­fer­ence.”

Steve Rotheram

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