Moving Buses Forward Guide

Right now, YOU'VE got a massive power to improve local buses that no one else does!

The Liverpool City Region Mayor has handed the decision to introduce a London-style system of public control, called franchising, to you. This is the Mayor's single biggest devolved power. No other Mayor is consulting on these powers at the minute. He's running a consultation on the plans until August.

Franchising allows fares, tickets, routes, and timetables to be integrated and planned in the public interest. It's the system used in every other European country. It means that buses would work for the public, not just for profit.

It takes about 10 minutes to fill in the consultation. We've picked out the key questions and answers to maximise the support for public control: please go to the online questionnaire here or download the print version here and return it by post.

Start your response to the consultation now

Please select the "SHORT" consultation. You will need to fill in other quesitons about yourself at the start and end. Here are the key questions to answer and suggested answers to maximise support for public control.

Q1. The Assessment concludes that the current bus system is not performing as well as it should. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Strongly agree

Q2. The Assessment concludes that Franchising is the best option for the Combined Authority to meet its strategic objectives for bus transport in the region. For each of the following objectives, to what extent do you think Franchising will help deliver it?

Objective 1. Maximise the contribution of bus services to achieving the economic success and social capacity of the Liverpool City Region (make the most of how bus services contribute to improving the economy and enable people to access opportunities and services).

Fully deliver

Objective 2. Maximise the contribution of bus services to reducing the impact of travel on the natural environment (make the most of how buses can reduce the impact on the environment).

Fully deliver

Objective 3. Harness competition’s role in improving the offer to passengers and delivering best value for the Combined Authority for the services it procures (use competition between operators to help improve bus standards and services for passengers and get the most value for the cost to the public sector).

Fully deliver

Objective 4. Maximise the passenger benefits of service coordination, ticket integration and information provision across the Liverpool City Region public transport network (give passengers a better experience with buses by making bus services more connected, improving how tickets are used across bus services and other public transport methods, and providing better information about services and timetables).

Fully deliver

Objective 5. Support the implementation of measures that improve bus service delivery by addressing factors which may constrain the extent to which bus operators can commit to meet quality or service level standards (support plans to improve bus service standards to make buses run on time more often).

Fully deliver

Q3a. Based on the information given, do you agree Franchising will offer value for money to the public sector?

Strongly agree

Q3b. Why do you think this?

Pick one of these answers and write it in your own words:

  • While it may have higher costs to bring in franchising, the report says we’re likely to get these paid back by the benefits of the scheme over time. Also, the higher cost is worth paying if it means that services are accountable to the public — this benefit is so valuable that it’s worth paying slightly more to get to that point.
  • It offers better value for money as unlike the partnership, which would rely on us having to argue with bus companies to get them to voluntarily give up the things we need, we can just make them happen.
  • The business case shows that franchising has a “high” overall value for money based on the Department for Transport guidance.
  • It has a higher money value put onto it in the analysis (“NPV”) than the other option.
  • If recovery and funding for buses went as well as possible, franchising can deliver nearly £100 million more benefits than the other option (£637m vs £535m).
  • Research elsewhere shows that franchising buses can halve the amount of money that leaks out of a city region through dividends. That money would be staying in Merseyside to run more buses, pay drivers more, or lower fares.
  • Franchising means that there are fewer teams of advertising or customer management staff to be paid for out of public subsidy and fares as Merseytravel will unify and centralise many of these jobs.
  • There are some powers that are just illegal under any model except franchising, such as a single set of simple fares on all operators or cross-subsidising services through the farebox. Unlocking these new powers means the franchising scheme offers value for money.

Q5. The Assessment shows how Merseytravel would manage Franchising in the Liverpool City Region. To what extent do you agree with these plans?


Q6. Overall, to what extent do you support or oppose the introduction of Franchising?

Fully support

Q7a. Do you think Franchising will improve and support the delivery of future improvements for the bus network in the Liverpool City Region?

Improve a lot

Q7b. Why do you think this?

Pick one of these answers and write it in your own words:

  • In the strategic case, it says franchising will help boost frequencies and extend the times of day buses run for “where Enhanced Partnership regulations did not allow for such changes.” This would be great as lots of my friends and family are limited in their work and leisure opportunities by when and where the buses run.
  • In the strategic case, it says fares will be simpler as “passengers could use tickets across transport modes.” It would be fantastic to have an Oyster card-style system that guarantees you the best price for the journeys you actually make.
  • It sounds like fares would be cheaper under franchising than under any other system.
  • They will be accountable to the public’s needs, through us electing the Mayor, rather than just the shareholders of the private bus companies.
  • There will be better information provision as it will be coordinated through Merseytravel, not lots of individual bus companies.
  • There will be a rewards scheme for bus operators when they do better and deliver long-term improvements. At the minute, they only have a profit as their reward and make that bigger in the short run by cutting routes and hiking fares.
  • No other European country has handed as much power over to private bus operators as we have. When I hear from people about public transport in Europe, it is always better than what we have here. This move will bring us in line with them: I think it will deliver significant benefits as a result.
  • More of the money from bus fares will be kept in the region as we will control the “fare box” rather than see it leak out to private bus company shareholders elsewhere.

Q8. Do you have concerns about franchising?

Please pick one of the following and write it in your own words:

(1) I do not like the plans that “all drivers and maintenance staff would be the operators’ responsibility.” I want to ensure that it is used to protect and improve working conditions for bus drivers. When franchising was first introduced in London, the Mayor didn’t regulate drivers' pay and conditions. Private operators had a race-to-the-bottom to put in the lowest bids to win franchise contacts. While the Mayor intends to tie operators into the Fair Employment Charter, I think this is weak. I think a new, municipally owned bus driver agency (a Direct Labour Organisation) should be created. Operators must be awarded franchising contracts on the basis that they subcontract to this agency for employees, preventing any competition on drivers pay and conditions. It also gives security of employment, with no need for TUPE when franchise contracts change hands.

(2) I believe that franchising does not go far enough. In most other European countries municipal ownership of bus services is used to keep costs to local authorities from bus franchising to a minimum, saving the public money and delivering better services. There is currently a legal ban on new municipal bus companies. As soon as this is lifted, LCR should start a new municipal bus company. It should also consider using the current loophole that allows councils to buy bus companies to purchase the Arriva North West operating company when Arriva comes up for sale.

(3) I want to ensure equitable and democratic control over bus services. We should have regional councils of bus passengers, businesses, and members of the community who don’t currently take the bus who can influence decision making under franchising.

Please now complete the "ABOUT THE CONSULTATION" section.