The 418 bus service will be extended to April 2024 in a “temporary reprieve” for those worried cuts would leave them stranded.
Bus company Arriva is considering cutting two bus routes in Wirral including the 418 circular route that serves Prenton, New Ferry, Upton, Birkenhead and the Beechwood estate. Passing by Arrowe Park Hospital, the route is used by people going for appointments and work at the hospital.
It had been proposing stopping the 418 service on 21 January 2024 but it will now continue until April due to financial support provided by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority while options are considered going forward.
The move has been opposed by more than 700 people who have signed a petition as well as politicians from Wirral’s Labour and Green parties.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram confirmed the financial support responding to a public question at a combined authority meeting on 15 December, adding it was “another example of a broken system with the 418 and why we took the decision in October to franchise our bus service.”
Cllr Steve Foulkes, chair of the transport committee at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said, “This is an early Christmas present for the people of Prenton, Beechwood and North Birkenhead. The Combined Authority have stepped in to fund the 418 and protect the vital link it provides for those communities. I’d like to thank Mayor Rotheram in particular for his role in safeguarding this important service.”
Labour Bidston councillor Julie McManus has been campaigning alongside former bus driver Brendan Murphy (pictured) against the plans. She said she was “absolutely delighted,” adding: “It’s a temporary reprieve but we won’t take our foot off the pedal.
“It’s clear residents have been listened to but we will be keeping the pressure up to retain this much needed service beyond April.”
Brendan Murphy previously called the proposed cuts “ridiculous,” adding: “If I wanted to go anywhere else, I am basically stuffed. I do try and get out every day.
“Luckily I don’t have to go to Arrowe Park but there are people on this estate who work for the hospital who will find it very difficult to get there, visitors but staff as well. Their shifts finish at 8pm but the last bus is at 7.25pm. Any workers who want to get home, they can’t do it. It’s not fair.”
The cuts have also been opposed by Wirral’s Green Party. Cllr Bird said, “There are plans for thousands of more houses in Bromborough and in other parts of the Wirral and we need decent public transport to get people where they need to go.”
Lead image: The 418 bus going through Beechwood. Credit: Edward Barnes