Pressure mounts on Arriva over decision to cut Ince Blundell from 47 bus route
An Ince Blundell councillor has called on Arriva to reverse its "inconceivable" decision to stop the 47 bus from serving the village.
Labour councillor Nina Killen will meet with Arriva representatives this week (Thursday), telling them they must "consider the public they serve" and retain the only bus that travels through Ince Blundell.
Around 200 journeys a week are currently made by residents in Ince Blundell using the 47. Currently roadworks stop the bus from turning off the A565 into Ince Blundell on the southbound route, but from September 1 Arriva plans to stop the bus serving Ince Blundell altogether.
The new route will take the bus directly down the A565 without turning off at Ince Blundell. Arriva says it needs to make the change to improve reliability.
The nearest alternative bus stop is as much as 1.2km away on the A565, which is a busy 50mph road with no pavement on one side and no pedestrian crossing near the stop. No new bus stop on the A565 is possible due to safety reasons.
Cllr Killen, who serves Ravenmeols ward on Sefton Council which includes Ince Blundell, said: "Arriva's plan in inconceivable for all the residents living in Ince Blundell. For many people this bus is their lifeline, getting them to work, school or to the shops. Arriva must think about the public they serve rather than about profits. Merseytravel cannot force Arriva to change this decision but public pressure might, so we must keep up the pressure.
"The change will apparently save four minutes from the journey time. Arriva is a multi-million pound business making enormous profits so they should make the investment needed to make the bus run on time. If putting an extra bus on the route solves the problem, Arriva should make that investment.
"It is a dereliction of duty to expect passengers - many of them children or elderly - to walk down a busy main road to the nearest alternative bus stop. There is no pavement on one side of the road and there is not even a crossing point. I know of one elderly resident who has already made the decision to sell their home if this decision goes ahead as they cannot live without the bus. I have had dozens of residents contact me - they are dismayed by this decision."
Cllr Killen will meet with Arriva's head of operations in Merseyside Richard Hoare and representatives from Merseytravel this week (Thursday), along with Ince Blundell parish councillors, to discuss the plans.
The area's MP Bill Esterson has also written to residents to say he opposes the plan and urged people to take part in the consultation to show Arriva how badly the decision will affect them.
Cllr Killen said: "We will fight this all the way. I have written to Arriva to say I oppose this plan. Residents of Ince Blundell rely on this regular service, with more than 200 trips each week from the village.
"I do not believe that it is appropriate to expect Ince Blundell residents to walk to a bus stop 1.2km away down a busy main road in order to access the 47 bus.
"Arriva must reverse this decision and invest the necessary funds to improve reliability if this is what is needed."
Cllr Killen, who sits on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee, added: "Private bus companies run private routes for their own profit. They decide where their buses go and they put profit and shareholders first, not passengers. No one can force Arriva to change this decision as they control the route their 47 bus takes. But if this bus stops serving Ince Blundell, Merseytravel will be left to pick up the pieces using public money. Other routes which are publicly subsidised may have to be re-routed so that they serve Ince Blundell, resulting in a far inferior service for Ince Blundell residents and inconvenience for those who currently use those other buses."
Around 85% of Merseyside's bus routes are run by private companies. Merseytravel provides 15% of services which are subsidised because they are not profitable for private companies to run.
The Bus Services Act 2017 legislates for the re-regulation of bus services, which would give Merseytravel control over routes and fares. Mr Esterson has previously spoken out in favour of re-regulation.
The consultation on the changes to the 47 route closes on June 24 but comments can still be submitted to Merseytravel via email@example.com after this date.
Arriva must make a final decision on the proposal by July 21 if the new route is to begin on September 1.
PIC: Councillor Nina Killen