LCR Transport Committee reveals strong support for public control of buses

Liverpool City Region’s buses could be moving a step closer to public control as a Transport Committee report shows that 6,201 residents responded to the Mayor’s plans.

The consultation, called Moving Buses Forward, ran from 9 May to 3 August with 720,000 leaflets delivered to households across the City Region.

The news comes as Greater Manchester’s buses are due to come into public control from this Sunday (24 September).

Public control, sometimes called franchising, would see decisions about fares, routes, and timetables come under the control of local authorities, rather than private companies.

Campaigners argue that the changes would end a situation where private companies can “cherry-pick” the profitable routes and cut any quieter but essential services.

They also argue tickets would be simpler, buses could integrate better with Merseyrail, trains, and ferries, and the public would be able to reinvest profits into the network.

In Greater Manchester, the “Doing Buses Differently” consultation received more than 8,500 responses with 83% supporting taking buses into public control and only 8% disagreeing.

The Liverpool City Region is around half the size of Greater Manchester so as a proportion of the region’s population more people responded.

The Better Buses for Merseyside coalition, which held a launch event in May and pushed activists to support the plans, handed in a petition signed by 1700 local people in August.

They argue that the higher levels of participation show that support for public control is growing as Greater Manchester shows the way.

Matthew Topham, a campaigner at Better Buses for Merseyside, said, “The size of this response shows that who our buses work for is a key question for the region.

“Passengers, businesses, and communities have had enough of a system that prioritises profits for the likes of Arriva over protecting routes and keeping fares low.

“We know that things can’t go on as they are. Greater Manchester shows that public control could be just the ticket for reviving our bus network after mismanagement in private hands.”

Image: Wirral West MP, Margaret Greenwood, addresses campaigners

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