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Flat fares on buses blasted by transport boss

One stop or 10 miles: the £2.20 ticket to ride that punishes vulnerable people

Written by . Published on March 16th 2015.

Flat fares on buses blasted by transport boss

MERSEYSIDE'S transport chief has slammed the big bus companies operating across Liverpool for their unfair fare structure, saying it’s just not the ticket.

Cllr Liam Robinson, chairman of Merseytravel, has challenged bus operators to explain why they impose a flat fare across Merseyside, yet in Manchester and other areas they have variable fare structures which make shorter journeys cheaper.

His attack comes as new figures reveal 90 per cent of passengers are generally satisfied with the level of bus services across Merseyside – making it one of the best scores across all the areas surveyed by the organisation, Passenger Focus. 

Until it comes to fares. Says Cllr Robinson: “I’m really disappointed to see that value for money is still the lowest scoring measure of customer satisfaction at 67 per cent, which is really not good enough, with Arriva, our biggest bus operator, scoring only 61 per cent.

“While some week and season tickets can offer good value, these are not a viable option for those people who don’t have the money upfront and can only pay as and when they need to use the bus. 

These are the most vulnerable customers who are being penalised by this structure.

“Bus cash fares on Merseyside for shorter distances are also very expensive compared to other areas. The structure means that a 'short hop' of just a mile or so on a commercial route at £2.20 can cost the same as a journey from Bootle to Aigburth, which again is ridiculous for the customer. 

I’d like to challenge this and ask why they can't do staged fares like in other areas. If they are able to deliver these cheaper fares in places like Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands then I can see no reason why they can’t do it also in the Liverpool City Region.”

Bus companies set their fares on commercial routes,  unlike in London where fares and timetables are controlled by Transport for London. That is because when bus services in the provinces were de-regulated London was allowed to keep control of buses. In the capital the big companies operate the routes to strict rules laid down by Mayor Boris’s Transport for London.

Merseytravel, like many areas, wants to see similar powers extended beyond London. When that happens it will be in the driving seat when it comes to fares and bus frequency, not Arriva, Stagecoach and other operators.


Cllr Robinson says he is "keener than ever" to ensure Merseytravel work’s hard with partners to improve the passenger experience, but also to address affordability issues and ultimately see further growth in patronage, which has seen a huge decline over the years.

He has called for a complete re-think with value for money the secret of success for the bus sector.

“It needs to become a travel mode of choice rather than a mode for those who may have no choice. Manchester has got a devolution deal that includes bus franchising and we need to consider whether this is an option to improve these value for money scores and we need to secure similar devolved power so that we can potentially address value for money scores this way,” adds Cllr Robinson.

Improving the bus service is one of Merseytravel’s key priorities, it says, with the transport executive currently working on developing a comprehensive bus strategy for the Liverpool City Region as part of a multi-modal transport approach. 

One example of co-operation has been the introduction of MyTicket, a £2 flat fare all-day bus ticket for under 16s in partnership with the operators. Cllr Robinson wants to see that extended to older teens and those still in education and training, especially with the leaving age rising to 18.

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FairmindedMarch 16th 2015.

Not price related but sad to see that they are doing away with the Citylink bus. This runs around the city to key points every 12 mins, costing £1.50 a journey, (£3 for day) great for visitors to get around city after tour buses finish, and for peeps to get up around Baltic Area, cathedrals, dock, pier head, Lime St, up until 8pm. I don't think it's been advertised well enough, for people to know about this good little bus..

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 16th 2015.

Perhaps a "dolmus" system could be used in the city centre, they work quite well for tourists and the locals in Turkey and Greece.

AnonymousMarch 16th 2015.

I agree with the Councillor. His examples really don't go far enough, because of the complexities of bus routes, people sometimes have to get several buses to reach their required destination. Buses that used to go from the south of the city, to the north of the city, no longer do, you have to change bus in the city centre. Buses that go around the outer ring and the inner ring are plentiful, but they are only of use if that is where you require to go. Sometimes a relatively short journey can become an arduous task and take some considerable time.

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