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Liverpool City Region Bus Franchising FAQs

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Why is this consultation taking place?

This Consultation shares the conclusions of the Assessment into Bus Franchising as an option to reform bus services. Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (Combined Authority) has looked at two options to run buses within the Liverpool City Region in the future – Franchising and Enhanced Partnership. Following an independent assessment of the options our preferred option is Franchising. Before a final decision is made, we are required by law to seek views from the public, stakeholders, and statutory consultees on the Proposed Franchising Scheme and the conclusions of the Assessment.

What is Franchising?

Under Franchising, bus services would be brought within Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s (LCRCA) control. Merseytravel, on behalf of Combined Authority would set routes, timetables, fares, and standards. Bus operators would competitively bid for contracts to run services on behalf of LCRCA. The Franchising option is referred to as “the Proposed Franchising Scheme.”

What is an Enhanced Partnership?

Under an Enhanced Partnership, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and bus operators would work collaboratively to set joint objectives to improve bus services. Bus operators would continue to take revenue from fares on commercial services and make decisions about how bus services are run. The Enhanced Partnership would need to be negotiated and agreed with all the bus operators in the Liverpool City Region.

How are buses in the Liverpool City Region (LCR) run now?

Since 1986 bus services outside of London, including the Liverpool City Region, have been deregulated. That means that most bus services are run by commercial bus companies who decide the routes, timetables, fares, and standards. The bus companies receive the revenue from fares and retain the profits. Ultimately the bus companies currently have control over the bus network and cut services if they are not profitable. Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) uses what powers it has to make up the shortfall as best it can.

How much will it cost to introduce the Proposed Franchising Scheme?

The expected net costs to implement the Proposed Franchising Scheme are set out in the Financial Case of the Assessment. They include £252m of investment in fleet (new buses required to run the bus network), £62m of investment in depots (where buses are parked and maintained when out of service as well as operational hubs for operators) and £27m in transition costs (e.g., management costs, consultancy, procurement, IT) (all in 2020/21 prices). Public-sector borrowing would be used to finance the investment in fleet and depots, and where possible, certain transition costs. The amount of financing required before and during the transition period, including interest on public-sector borrowing, is identified in the financial case as £154m in nominal terms (£73m for fleet, £48m for depots and £33m for transition costs), although actual costs will be impacted by inflation and other factors.

How much will it cost to introduce an Enhanced Partnership?

The Financial Case assumes transition costs to implement the Enhanced Partnership of £1.5m (in 2020/21 prices). This will include market consultation and negotiations with operators, scheme design, and management and administration of the Enhanced Partnership following implementation.

What would franchising cost?

More money would be needed to move to a franchised bus system and to invest in improving our buses. We believe some of the big costs to be:

  • £252m investment in buses
  • £62m investment in bus depots
  • £27m to change over to franchising

We would look to borrow this money and pay it back in future from the fares we receive, and the more people that use the bus the easier this will be.

However, it is likely that extra funding would be needed to cover all long-term costs. This means that we would have to look at options such as:

  • Transport Levy – this is funded by Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral councils
  • Mayoral precept – this is the additional charge that residents across the region pay as a contribution to the work of the Combined Authority
  • Mersey Tunnel tolls – a proportion of any money left over after the cost of running and maintaining the tunnels is met
  • Government funding – additional money from central government

You can let us know what you think about funding for bus franchising by taking part in the consultation and answering the questionnaire.

Who is running the consultation/who do I contact?

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority are running this consultation and have commissioned consultants AECOM to manage and analyse the responses. You can contact us about this consultation through the following channels:

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone (messaging service): 0151 330 1249
  • We will also be holding a number of in person events, contact us or see our events page for details.

How long is the consultation running for?

The consultation will run until 23:59 on Thursday 3 August 2023.

How do I respond to the consultation?

We would like you to fill in a questionnaire. The short version contains 8 questions, and the long version contains 34 questions. You can answer either version of the questionnaire and you do not have to answer all the questions. You can complete and submit a questionnaire at

If you cannot fill in a questionnaire online, you can fill in a paper copy of the questionnaire at one of our events. Your completed paper copy can then be handed in at the event, emailed to [email protected] or sent to:

Embankment East Tower,
100 Cathedral Approach,
M3 7FB 

Who is allowed to take part?

Anyone can take part in the consultation. You do not have to live in the Liverpool City region (LCR) or be a regular bus user and even if you do not use buses, you can still take part – we want to hear from everyone. You can answer as a member of the public or in an official capacity.

How do I stay updated on what is happening?

Follow our website for the latest updates. If you submit a response, you can opt-in to enable us to save your email address or contact information so we can reach out to you afterwards. You can also follow us on social media:

Where can I find the consultation documents?

The consultation documents are online and are accessible, so they will work with Screen Readers and Read Aloud software.

Paper copies of the Consultation Document and other supporting documents are available to view in Merseytravel Centres and the public buildings. You can also view hard copies of the documents at our local engagement events.

Can I talk to someone in person?

If you would like to speak to us in person about the consultation, you can find us at the local engagement events listed here. You can also call us on 0151 330 1249 and leave a voicemail, our team will monitor messages on a daily basis and will get back to you as soon as possible.

What happens if I don’t submit my response in time?

The deadline for responses is 11.59pm on 3 August 2023. If you want to respond please make sure you do so before this time as we cannot guarantee that late responses will be accepted.

How do I get a translated version of the consultation document and questionnaire?

The consultation document, summary document and questionnaire are all accessible and are compatible with most translation software. You can access them here.

Please contact us via email or phone if you have any additional translation requests – our team will consider your request and get back to you as soon as possible.

Also, leaflets that have been translated in to Arabic, Polish, Portuguese and Romanian, but have not been tagged for accessibility. You can view them here.

How do I get an accessible version of the consultation document and questionnaire?

The consultation document and questionnaire are accessible. You can access them here.

If you need to respond in a different way, or require consultation materials in a different format, you can contact us at [email protected].

Or you can call us on 0151 330 1249 and leave a voicemail with your name and contact details – one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

I need help filling out the questionnaire?

If you need assistance with filling out the questionnaire, you can come along to one of our local engagement events listed here where a registered interviewer will be able to help you fill out the questionnaire. You can also call us on 0151 330 1249 and leave a voicemail with your name and contact details – one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

What is the difference between the short form and long form questionnaire?

We have created the short form questionnaire mainly for the public to use in response to the consultation, focusing on the key areas we need your views on. The long form questionnaire is mainly for stakeholders and statutory consultees, those with a good level of knowledge and interest in the bus market and how it runs. You are welcome to fill out whichever questionnaire you wish.

What happens next?

Your responses will be independently assessed as part of the consultation process. All responses will be considered when making any decision on whether to introduce the Proposed Franchising Scheme. This decision is currently expected in December 2023. However, it is subject to change depending on the progress and outcome of the consultation and any subsequent decision-making processes.

What will you do with my data?

All responses received go directly to AECOM – the independent agency who are managing and analysing the responses. AECOM will independently assess the responses as part of the consultation process. Please note that responses to the survey may be made publicly available after the consultation has closed, this would typically be in the form of a report on the results of the consultation exercise, but any personal information will be kept confidential. Your personal information will be properly safeguarded and processed in accordance with the requirements of privacy and data protection legislation. You can view AECOM’s privacy policy here.

I have a question about the consultation that hasn’t been answered

You can email: [email protected]

Or you can call us on 0151 330 1249 and leave a voicemail with your name and contact details – one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

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