Decision to cut Merseyside bus services is ‘perverse’ says Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram

Liverpool, St Helens, Knowsley and Sefton could all be hit by reduced service the proposals.

Proposed service cuts by bus operators across the Liverpool City Region is “perverse” according to the MetroMayor.

A two-week consultation was held on amendments to public transport services across five of the six boroughs, scheduled to come in from September.

Operators have put forward dozens of changes including reductions to services into Liverpool city centre on weekends, two services withdrawn in St Helens while some routes between Knowsley and Liverpool will be changed.

Some services could also be cut back in Sefton. The online consultation was launched last month as operators respond to challenges posed by reduced passenger numbers and rising inflation.

After Arriva and Stagecoach were advised to think again by the city region’s transport committee chair last week, Mayor Rotheram has offered his criticism of the move, hot on the heels of the combined authority’s decision to cap bus fares at £2 for three years.

Addressing an overview and scrutiny committee, the Metro Mayor said: “That is mitigated by some of the announcements by the bus operating companies, and you’ll see while we are desperately trying to provide the London-style integrated public transport system as a genuine quality alternative to the car, our bus operating companies don’t always see things the way we do.”

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. Image: LCR

More than a dozen services across the combined authority region will have services reduced, mostly on evenings and weekends, with 16 impacted across Liverpool alone.

Last week, Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of the Liverpool City Region transport committee, said given more than 1,700 people had responded “this just shows how important these services are to people.

“This is an opportunity for the bus companies to think again.” Metro Mayor Mr Rotheram said the proposals have come at precisely the wrong time.

He said: “I have to say it’s at the very time when many people may be forced because of the cost of living crisis to use public transport more, so we need more services, not less. We made that decision to support people by reducing the cost of bus fares.”

Mr Rotheram added: “It’s a bit perverse that bus companies are thinking differently.” Following the end of the consultation last Sunday, views captured during the online exercise will be considered and discussed with bus operators and routes will be formally agreed and shared online in August.