Liverpool City Region will take back control of its bus network
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will take back control of its bus network following an “historic” vote. Leaders of Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton voted in favour of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s plan to introduce a system of bus franchising.
Under a franchised system, decisions about routes, timetables, service frequencies and fares would be taken out of the hands of the private bus operators and be put under the control of the Combined Authority. In the last few weeks more than 6,000 people have taken part in public consultation with almost 70% in favour of the franchising plan. This has paved the way for the latest vote.
There will now be a three-year transition period to allow network improvement measures such as reintroducing bus lanes in Liverpool. In July LBN reported that the reforms could cost up to £340m to implement. Franchising will be introduced in phases, with the first franchised buses starting to run in St Helens by late 2026 and the move to a fully franchised system across the whole of the Liverpool city region by the end of 2028.
This decision reverses the privatisation of the network introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government in 1986 that allow all local bus networks outside of London to be deregulated. Merseyside’s buses were taken out of state control the following year. This led two a period of chaos with private operators aggressively competing for passengers during the morning and evening rush hours on Liverpool’s busiest routes.