Thursday, 24 October 2013

Buses - bizarre view of communication and consultation.

I had to laugh when I read todays letter in the Liverpool Post from Councillor Tim Moore.

Tim is attempting to say that the decision on bus lanes hasn't been rushed, is based on something, and has been communicated and consulted on.

As evidence for this he mentions two meetings with bus operators, and the ability of the public to have their say and help scutinise through two meetings at the Council.

He has got to be joking.

The decision was announced ahead of any committee meeting and was prominent in the press on 19 September.  The Transport commitee Tim says was an opportunity for people to have their say was less than a week later on a working day.  The "public" Cabinet meeting he cites was a mere two days after the committee.

If the Council had genuinely wanted a proper consultation, or even some communication before a decision, it wouldn't have worked to this timetable which looks and sounds very much like no other views were required.

It is good that there will be a scutiny group to look at the effects of the suspension but I have little doubt that this was an afterthought once opposition started being made clear.

I personally am agnostic about bus lanes.  But I believe all significant decisions should involve proper consultation and proper evidence.  In this case evidence could have been collected before any suspension rather than using the suspension as post hoc rationalisation.

As for the meetings with bus operators, both sides acknowledge they happened.  The bus people say these were meetings to tell them what was happening rather than to consult.  Without being there it's impossible to know but it will be interesting to find out what the timing of these meetings was (ie pre or post the press announcement)


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know whether anyone ever asked (bus operators excluded) whether bus lanes were right for Liverpool, and for the individual locations. What are the before and after statistics? Why is it that during school holidays traffic flows freely? Surely not because a lot of people don't use their car during this time? Is it because there are less buses? Do we really know?

Paula Keaveney said...

I believe Merseytravel is very involved in the selection of locations for bus lanes - although the report that went to Cabinet was vague in the extreme about the original decision making process. During the summer break many bus services go onto a different timetable which basically means they are less frequent, so it's probably fair to say there is less traffic and fewer buses. This doesn't apply however during half term when the bus services (apart from special school ones) remain the same (although car use may be down).

The whole point here is that there is no hard data and apparently no attempt was made to collect any before decisions were made. As it happens Merseytravel had identified 4 bus lanes that were possibly not worth keeping but that is all and the Council itself had no data.

Clearly it would have made a lot of sense to have before and after data at the beginning. The council will claim that that is being collected now, but without the data pre the suspension we still won't have a proper comparison.

In terms of when bus lanes are introduced, my memory of what went along around one of them is that there is consultation and it may have to go to a committee. Certainly wnen the Horrocks Avenue one was suggested there was quite a process and local people were asked as well as transport companies.