Consultation on Arriva and Stagecoach Bus Service Timetable Changes - June/July 2022
A letter from Cllr Andy Bowden, our Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, to Merseytravel on the bus service proposals...
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this consultation.
I wanted to put down in writing the deep concerns that St Helens Borough Council has with the proposed reductions in service proposed across the borough. While we recognise the challenges facing the commercial bus market following reduced patronage and the withdrawal of revenue support, the significant service changes proposed will have substantial detrimental impacts on our communities which I cannot support.
As an example, withdrawing the #37 service (St Helens to Eccleston) deprives a whole community within St Helens of convenient access to the bus network entirely. Elsewhere, the significant frequency reductions on key services connecting St Helens, especially the urban areas of Billinge and Garswood to surrounding urban centres will make it harder for our residents to get to work, access essential services and travel across our City Region. The service reductions also hamper and undermine our significant town centre regeneration ambitions, which seek to deliver improved connectivity through a new multi-modal transport interchange and associated bus priority measures.
Over recent months and years, the Liverpool City Region has developed strong policy basis focused on the critical need to uptake of public transport. Our Bus Service Improvement Plan starts with recognition that, currently, too many people face being left behind by a transport system that does not work for them.
Reductions like those proposed only worsen this picture, taking us further away from achieving our strategic goals and aspirations.
As well as eroding the essential connectivity which our residents and businesses rely on to get around, service reductions mean less uptake of sustainable travel impacting on our Climate Emergency action plan, and fewer people returning to the network following the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, it is hard for our residents to understand the case for ambitious capital schemes to benefit bus services when the services themselves or onward connections are being simultaneously reduced.
I trust that you will continue to keep myself and our local councillors fully briefed on the outcomes of this consultation. I would urge you to press strongly to minimise any service changes and avoid any future reductions in the level of service available to residents of St Helens and the broader Liverpool City Region moving forward, with these service reductions addressed and amended at the earliest possible opportunity.
Councillor Andy Bowden
Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport
Article date: 4 July 2022