Arriva, Stagecoach and Merseytravel have signed a new agreement that will deliver more than £25m worth of investment in bus services in year one of the five-year partnership, for the benefit of existing and new passengers.
The Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance will provide local people with improved, more efficient, joined-up and better value services. The landmark agreement also sees a commitment from operators to provide modern bus fleets with an average age of no more than seven years.
Passengers will benefit from a range of new services and customer-focused improvements, including improved smart ticketing, and WiFi and USB charging on all new buses so passengers can charge their mobile devices on the move.
The formal signing of the Bus Alliance agreement also releases additional Government OLEV funding of £4.7 million – the single biggest award out of the last round of funding in July – for 72 new, greener buses across the City Region.
The two operators will partner fully on a range of initiatives including marketing campaigns, on-bus cleaning and customer service training. The agreement promises improved links to the city’s John Lennon Airport, and a new night bus service will continue to be piloted.
To encourage significantly more people to use buses across the city region both operators will also sign up to clearly defined targets around punctuality and passenger satisfaction.
The Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance is a key element of a comprehensive bus strategy for the region. Built around the idea of ‘multimodal’ transport for customers, changing between rail and bus services will be simplified making journeys easier and more enjoyable for passengers.
Howard Farrall, Area Managing Director Arriva Merseyside, said: “The signing of the Alliance is an exciting milestone for passengers across the region.
“It commits all operators and our partners to a package of measures designed to make the bus network here on Merseyside even more attractive, affordable and accessible for passengers.
“The Alliance promises to be a first-class partnership for our region. It brings together operators and the local authority, working together under an agreed framework to deliver even better bus services, networks and customer service for passengers.”
Elisabeth Tasker, Managing Director of Stagecoach Merseyside & South Lancashire, said: “Buses are central to life in Merseyside, from getting people to work, helping shoppers access our high streets, and connecting people with education, health and leisure opportunities.
“Merseyside already has one of the highest levels of bus satisfaction in the country and working through the new Alliance, with significant investment from Stagecoach, we can deliver an even better customer experience and get more people on board the bus.”
Said Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of the Merseytravel Committee: “This is a real step forward in improving bus services and facilities for everyone in the city region– not just for existing users but for encouraging potential new users to give it a try.
“This investment will mean we can do some transformational work together, but that’s not forgetting what we’ve already achieved as an informal partnership, with one of the best young people’s ticketing offers outside London, with all young people’s tickets now available up to and including 18.”
Said Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool and Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority: “By signing this landmark Alliance, our City Region has once again developed an innovative way to get people a better deal, meaning higher quality buses, more reliable and better services for users.
“There will be 72 brand new buses on our network – one of the very real, visible benefits of this Alliance. We’re all working hard to give our city region one of the best transport networks in the world.”
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be asked to chair this Alliance. We’ve worked closely with Merseytravel over many years to help get improved public transport across the city region and have particularly hailed the youth fare offer as an example for others to follow – I hope that through me chairing this Alliance we can help make buses even better”.
As a result of the Liverpool agreement, Arriva has now placed orders for 72 vehicles for the city with an investment of £16.3million plus £4.9million support from OLEV. This comprises 12 full-electric single-deck BYD/ADL buses with Arriva funding £2.3million and OLEV £1.6million plus £280,000 for infrastructure, and 9 biogas-powered buses worth around £2.2million for an order about to be placed including £300,000 OLEV support.
There are also 51 Volvo/Wrights double-deck hybrids on order with Arriva investing £12.3million and £2.7million support from OLEV.