“I believe the key to social mobility is physical mobility.”
A REAL VISION FOR THE FUTURE
I travelled to every country in the world on public transport, so it’s fair to say I know a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. At the moment, Liverpool’s public transport system is not integrated, it is not cost effective and it is not fit for purpose.
To that end, I will be pushing for a major overhaul of almost every aspect of public transportation in Liverpool, with three main goals:
- Massive reduction of fares (up to 90%)
- Improved access
- Reducing the amount of traffic on our city streets
This will not be achieved by penalising drivers — that’s lazy and unimaginative. We’re going to do this the smart way: by embracing technology and thinking outside the box.
Bring back regulation
The only city in the UK that can boast a good, effective, integrated public transport system is London. This is because Transport for London (TfL) has the power to set fares, offer subsides and run an integrated system in which one card works on all trains, buses and ferries.
Liverpool City Council could have fought against de-regulation in the 1980s, like the GLC did, but they chose not to. As a result, public transport in Liverpool is a mess. I will work to bring back regulation, slash prices and subsidise fares for young people, the unemployed and those on low incomes, with an aim in the long term of making local public transport affordable for all.
The era of “it’s cheaper to take a taxi” has to come to an end.
End the School Run!
Anybody who has ever driven in Liverpool between 8am and 9am knows the nightmare that is the school run. Thousands of kids, one per car, being dropped off at the school gates by mum or dad. Quite aside from the impact on the environment, and the added danger to all of our children by there being simply more cars on the road, being stuck in traffic is nobody’s idea of fun.
But then neither is being on the bus to work and being surrounded by dozens of screaming schoolchildren.
The solution to this problem is as simple as it is obvious: I will lobby for the introduction of American-style free school buses, that pick children up from outside (or near) their homes at a fixed time each morning and take them to their school. No more school run, no more kids on the 61.
While I believe Merseyrail does a decent job, to say that East Liverpool remains poorly served by trains is understatement. In fact, there is not a single train station to be found within the area bounded by Rice Lane, Moorfields and the M57 at the A508 and junctions 2 and 6 of the M57… the result of over 60 years of under-investment and bad policy decisions made by previous national and local governments.
I want to see the “Canada Dock Branch” line between Lime Street and Bootle via Tuebrook reopened to passengers. The tracks are still there and in working order (they are currently used for goods). Services could whisk the people of Tuebrook to the city centre in just 5 minutes and would provide a great way of getting large numbers of people to the match, dropping fans just 1km away from Anfield and 400 metres from Goodison.
As the line joins the Southport branch of the Northern Line at Kirkdale anyway, the train could continue to Southport, replacing the current Southport Northern Line train service from Central via Moorfields, Sandhills and Bank Hall.
Continuing in the vein of “improving what we already have” I will lobby the Metro Mayor to push to have Merseyrail’s franchise extended beyond Ormskirk to Preston and beyond Kirkby to Wigan. This will improve links with The North, reduce traffic and be a blessed relief to anyone who lives in, say, Burscough. Again, the line is there, but for the sake of quite frankly bizarre territorial boundaries, there’s a buffer on the tracks stopping trains travelling all the way along them. It’s quicker to travel from Preston to Liverpool City Centre via Warrington!!
Thinking in the longer term, I want to see trains return to the Liverpool Loop Line, running from Central to Hunts Cross (replacing the Northern Line services to Hunts Cross) and then continuing to Wavertree, Broadgreen (interchange), Knotty Ash, West Derby, Norris Green and Walton Hall Park to the (existing) tunnel that links Walton-On-The-Hill (Walton Flyover) with Kirkdale, then back to Central.
The main infrastructure is already there; tunnels, bridges etc. We have to pay to maintain these white elephants, which is ludicrous when they could be helping to get people around the city and helping to reduce traffic and congestion on the city streets.
Some people think that there’s nothing wrong with Liverpool’s buses. I can only assume these people never take the bus.
A return ticket to the city centre from anywhere in the West Derby constituency on an Arriva bus costs a flat £4.30. A 17-year-old on minimum wage earns just £4.05 an hour. That means that a 17-year-old working part time in the city centre has to work for over an hour before they’ve paid off the cost of themselves getting to work.
Arriva made an operating income of €525 million in 2015. It is owned by Deutsche Bahn (literally “German Railway”), a distinctly non-British company that made a net profit of €1.3 BILLION in 2013.
When it is far cheaper for 5 friends to take the bus than it is to share a taxi, then we’ll know that the buses are working correctly.
The potholes in Liverpool are a bloody nightmare and they come from one main source: lorries.
The amount of damage done to roads by vehicles rises in orders of magnitude. A 2-ton vehicle does 4 times the damage of a 1-ton vehicle. A 3-ton vehicle does 8 times the damage – and so on.
I propose a weight limit be imposed on lorries using suburban streets and a blanket ban on lorries transporting 40 foot containers in the city without special permission. There will be three “truck corridors”: one in South Liverpool leading to Garston Docks, one coming into and out of the city via Scotland Road and the Kingsway Tunnel and one in North Liverpool from Switch Island to Seaforth Docks and extending down the Old Dock Road as far as the Stanley Dock Swingbridge.
No more will these behemoths be allowed to mess up our roads.
While I have sympathy with learner drivers, I also understand that it’s probably best for everybody (learners included!) for them not be on the road at rush hour.
Therefore I propose a soft ban on learner drivers from 8am to 9am and 5pm to 6pm.
Fix terrible junctions
There are several of these within the West Derby constituency, chief of which has to be the Tuebrook roundabout by the old cinema. Having three lanes that inexplicably smash into two once on the roundabout is about as safe and as sensible as it sounds. I’d widen the roundabout so that the left lane is solely for Lisburn Lane, the middle lane for Muirhead Avenue and the right lane for continuing along West Derby Road (or doing a U-Turn). This isn’t rocket science.
Another awful junction is to be found on the intersection of Honey’s Green Lane, Blackmoor Park and Alder Road, a junction I’ve personally witnessed dozens of crashes on over the years. Turn it into a roundabout.
Talking of Rockets, given half a chance I’d completely change the junction at the end of the M62, possibly one of the most ill-conceived traffic junctions in Britain, if not the world.
My plan would see a tunnel linking the M62 and Edge Lane, so drivers wouldn’t have to stop if coming to or from town (the bulk of the traffic). I would then remove the Queens Drive flyover and replace the whole junction with a big roundabout, like the Fiveways (while maintaining the dedicated left turn onto Queens Drive off the motorway).
This would free up several acres of land for grass and trees, make it infinitely safer for pedestrians to cross the road, fill in those terrifying underpasses, make that nightmare right turn off the M62 onto Queens Drive a distant memory, and having something a lot nicer than an old concrete flyover greet visitors to our fair city.
While I’m at it, I’d rename M62 from Liverpool to Manchester “the M52” – (what it should have been called in the first place) – and make the Rocket “Junction 1”. It’s always annoyed me that it’s “Junction 4”!!
PROPORTIONAL VEHICLE fINES
There are few things more punitive to low-income families than traffic fines. It’s incredibly unfair that a millionaire gets away with paying less than 1% of their daily income on a parking fine while somebody on minimum wage must pay more than 100%. Therefore I propose that in Liverpool, all penalty notices are banded based on the value of the vehicle.
In other words, a parking ticket for a brand-new Ferrari will cost several times more than a parking ticket for a twenty year old Fiesta.
Many people seem to think that HS2 is “just so people can get to Manchester a bit faster”, but the reality is that the West Coast Mainline is at breaking point — as anybody has endured the misery of getting to or from London on a Sunday can testify.
HS2 will allow an alternative route while the West Coast Mainline can be upgraded and then, once the WCM comes back on line, have the capacity to move hundreds of thousands of people every day. Make no mistake: HS2 is a necessity, not a luxury. It’s that or a traffic jam on the M6 stretching from Birmingham to the Thelwall Viaduct for the next 100 years.
The Tories are quietly planning to scrap the line (which they’ve already spent billions on) in order to pay the gargantuan “fine” the UK will have to pay in order to establish any kind of decent trade agreement with the EU after Brexit.
I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep HS2 alive, ensure it comes to Liverpool and links to HS3. This is the future of our region we’re talking about here, London has been well-served by trains for decades. Now it’s our turn.
SEGREGATED Cycle Lanes
It’s typical of the lazy thinking of Liverpool City Council that they brag about how they have added x many miles of cycle lanes and yet their idea of a cycle lane is a line painted down the side of the road where people park their cars.
It’s little wonder that there are so few active cyclists in Liverpool when things, as they are, are so dangerous. But there is little reason why this should be. Princes Road, Edge Lane, West Derby Road and Queens Drive have an almost insulting amount of space available for segregated cycle lanes
Smarter Traffic Flow
I want to see “proceed if clear” left turns at several major traffic light junctions across the city.
I want most of the minor traffic light junctions in Liverpool set to flash yellow between the hours of 10pm and 6am, allowing for a “Stop, Give Way, Proceed If Safe” system that is widespread across Europe. Pedestrian lights will still operate as usual when the button is pressed.
Personally, I dislike the “puffin” crossings that have been inflicted on us in recent years. If somebody is standing in the way of the indicator light you can’t see if it’s safe to cross the road. I’ll have them fitted with signal lights across the road (like they used to) in tandem with the nearby light and ensure that all are fitted with an audible alarm.