An Arriva bus in Southport

Controversial proposed changes to the popular 44 and 49 bus services in Southport have been scrapped. 

The 49 Crossens – Formby / Woodvale had faced being axed altogether, as the Liverpool City Region aimed to save money by cutting bus routes across the region this autumn. 

Following public consultation, it has now been agreed to keep these services running. 

The authority confirmed that private operators have now finalised a number of changes to routes across Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and the Wirral that will begin on Sunday 4th September 2022.

Several services considered to be ‘vital routes’ have been protected from the proposals after Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority stepped in to provide funding support to save them.

These include the 49 Crossens – Formby / Woodvale and 44 to Southport Hospital, the 492 and 495 to Birkenhead, 37 from St Helens to Eccleston and the 76 and 78 from Halewood to Liverpool city centre.

Currently, the majority of bus services in the Liverpool City Region are operated on a commercial basis by private operators – predominantly Arriva and Stagecoach. Under this deregulated bus system, these private companies have control over aspects such as routes, timetables and fares.

Earlier this year Liverpool City Region leaders took an important step towards reversing this power imbalance after local leaders voted to confirm franchising as their preferred model for the future running the network – a landmark move that would reverse the industry’s deregulation in the mid-1980s. This would give the Combined Authority the ability to set routes, timetables and fares.

The bus operators initially proposed changes to their commercial services as government funding to help keep routes in operation throughout the pandemic is set to end this autumn.

Proposals for the changes were published in late June, followed by a public consultation to give people the chance to provide their feedback.

A full list of the final changes and more information on why the review has taken place can be found on our Commonplace website at http://lcrbusreview.commonplace.is. If a service is not listed on this site, then no changes have been made.

A summary of some of the key changes to the original plans made as a result of the public consultation are below:

Arriva

  • 492/495 Birkenhead – Noctorum Circulars to remain at every 30 minutes due to Combined Authority funding
  • 37 St Helens – Eccleston will not be withdrawn; will serve Eccleston every 60 minutes and then extend up to Rainford. Service 38 will operate every 60 minutes, meaning two buses per hour from Rainford into St Helens and a 30 minute service along Kiln Lane. Rainford Junction will have a 60 minute service. This is possible due to Combined Authority funding
  • 44 & 49 Crossens – Formby/Woodvale will remain unchanged
  • 76 & 78 Halewood – Liverpool will remain at 30 minutes Monday-Friday daytime due to Combined Authority funding
  • 310 Liverpool – Skelmersdale will be unchanged (Proposed to reduce to every 60 minutes beyond Maghull)
  • 300 Liverpool – Southport will be unchanged (Saturday frequency reduction was originally proposed)
  • 352 St Helens – Orrell/Wigan will remain at every 15 minutes Monday-Friday and just reduce to every 30 minutes on a Saturday (weekday frequency reduction was originally proposed)
  • 79 – Short journeys will terminate at Wood Lane rather than at Belle Vale meaning an 8-minute service between Liverpool and Wood Lane Monday-Friday daytime, with a 16 minute service extending through to Halewood.

Stagecoach

  • 17 Liverpool – Kirkby Industrial Park will have revisions to the proposed timetable to better accommodate shift times

In addition to these changes, the Combined Authority has proposed funding to retain the frequencies of the 204 & 61. Discussions are on-going with the operators to achieve this, but it will not be possible before the September change date.

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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