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Posted by: John Brace | March 4, 2011

Arriva and the tale of the new bus stop at which Arriva buses won’t stop (for 5 months!) – Hoylake Road/Compton Road, Bidston


As regular readers of the Bidston & St. James Focus know, Merseytravel recently responded to a campaign we ran (on behalf of local residents of Beechwood) for extra bus stops on Hoylake Road near the Wirral Tennis & Sports Centre.

The one on the North side of Hoylake Road (opposite Compton Road) is fine and buses are stopping at it. Both stops now have timetables in too.

At the end of June I met with a representative of Merseytravel and Wirral Council on site. There was some concern about the effect of parking and traffic from Compton Road. However since a road of houses off Compton Road was demolished to make a park for Bidston Rise there’s been much less traffic coming into and out of Compton Road (which is short and only has houses one side). Both Merseytravel and Wirral Council agreed there would be no road safety issues as long as the bus stop didn’t obscure a drive on Hoylake or affect sight lines. At this point (a few yards from a set of traffic lights the traffic would be moving slowly anyway).

The bus would be fine stopping on the double yellow lines here and the no loading sign wouldn’t apply to a bus.

However a local resident recently stopped me in the street and told me that Arriva buses were not stopping at the Hoylake Road/Compton Road stop on the South side of Hoylake Road.

Originally Merseytravel had planned to put this stop further along Hoylake Road, but the resident outside whose house it’d be objected on grounds of parking and privacy. So instead it was sited nearer to the double yellow lines/no loading at Compton Road/Hoylake Road.

The resident said she had tried to get off Arriva buses at this stop, but they wouldn’t let her on/off, with the driver insisting it wasn’t a stop. However other operators such as Avon that use this route were stopping here. This sounded odd to me, so I wrote to Arriva.

Back in July all operators on the route (including Arriva) were written to about the proposed pair of new bus stops. This is what the Managing Director of Arriva wrote on the 16th July 2010 (before the bus stop was put in):-

Should existing bus stops be moved, Mr. Finnie would be more than happy to continue using these to aid access to the Tesco store for our customers. However, this would have to be fully risk assessed to ensure that these stops could be used safely

Bear in mind the existing bus stops weren’t moved, but new ones were added! A risk assessment was done by Wirral Council.

Arriva wrote to me again in a letter dated 23rd February 2011. In this they quote “The manager of Birkenhead depot has investigated and advised the following. Our drivers have been instructed not to serve this stop until we have carried out a full safety assessment on it. We apologise for any inconvenience this may be causing, but it is essential for the safety of our passengers, our drivers and other road users that this is completed before it is used. The stop will then be served once we have registered this additional stop with the Local Authority as we are required to do so.”

So, to summarise Arriva won’t stop their buses at a new bus stop which has been in place for 5 months. It’s already been risk assessed by Wirral Council and Merseytravel and been found to be a suitable site for a bus stop. The timetable insert (provided by Merseytravel) gives people the impression the Arriva services stop here. Today I took some photos of the stop and recorded a video to try and explain to Arriva (and the public) why they aren’t stopping here!

Hopefully Arriva will have some common sense in the near future and/or carry out their “full safety assessment”. I’ll be writing to Simon Finnie, the General Manager at Birkenhead (and back to Steven Hill) and taking him up on the offer of a site visit and Merseytravel if they wish to come.

Compton Road/Hoylake Road bus stop timetable

Compton Road/Hoylake Road bus stop timetable

Compton Road/Hoylake Road bus stop timetable

I did make a one minute video of myself at the bus stop explaining the above, but the traffic seems to have drowned me out! When out this morning, I did bump into the resident who seemed pleased that someone was taking an interest in the problem. However she was walking someone to school and couldn’t chat long.

When I clear up the audio (or dub over it) I’ll post it on this blog. On a point of local history, when I was a teenager the secondary school used to play hockey on the astroturf pitches at Wirral Tennis & Sports Centre in the Winter and Spring term. As the school day finished at the Wirral Tennis & Sports Centre we were expected to make our own way back home as the school minibus only took a few back to the school gates (the school minibus took twelve, but about a hundred boys in my year did sports here each week arriving in a coach). In 1994-1996 I could have done with these extra bus stops (especially in the cold Winter!) as it would’ve saved me a few minutes walk after the slog up the steep hill with sports gear from the sports centre.

However, the main reason behind these stops is to help Beechwood residents who visit Tesco by bus to shop. These extra stops save about 3 minutes walk along Hoylake Road (which with heavy bags of shopping can be tiring for the elderly or disabled).

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Responses

  1. Hello.

    I am a Bus Driver who works for Arriva Birkenhead.

    I understand why people could be upset that a bus stop has been installed, yet some buses arent stopping there. I personally waited for a few weeks before i used that stop, as at first it had no timetable and secondly, i had not been told to. Eventually i began to use it although it is rare that it gets used.

    There is two sides to the coin though and i daresay the main reason why drivers where not stopping there is because we have to think about ourselves too. We have a notice board that informs us of new bus stops, removed bus stops, route changes, road closures and any other similar issues. We must do as this board says. If a new bus stop is erected but no notice is put up to us that means we are not to use this stop.

    Secondly, if a driver allows a passenger to leave the vehicle when not at a designated bus stop for that service, he is effectively un insured. If we have not been told to use that stop then if we allow you to get off at that location then we are not insured. If a passenger falls whilst exiting the vehicle then that is considered the drivers fault. This would be serious enough for a driver to loose his job as it is not following company procedure. The next stop is not 3 minutes walk like you said, but just one minute tops, even for an oap. Our jobs and livelyhoods are far more important to us than saving some lazy people 2 minutes. That is the main reason why many drivers would not have stopped there.

    No notice was ever put onto the board (that i am aware of) but now all drivers are using this stop, most likely because they had had enough of people like yourself selfishly valuing 2 minutes of your time as more important than someones livelyhood.

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    • Thank you for your comment.

      Initially it had no timetable because Merseytravel made a mistake (as it was a new stop). However once I pointed it out to them, it has had a timetable in it for many months. Thank you for pointing it out though.

      It’s one of those stops that gets heavy use at certain times of day. It’s near to a school (Observatory School), Tesco and the Wirral Tennis & Sports centre. When these places aren’t open the stop gets used less. When people are at work, there is less use for it. So it really depends on time of day.

      I rarely get on at this stop as I live some way away, but last time I got on the bus at this stop, I was one of two people. I see more people getting on at the stop on the other side of the road (South side).

      As I don’t work for Arriva I don’t know about Arriva’s noticeboard. Arriva informed me by letter (many, many months) before the stop went in they had no objections to it and it was Merseytravel’s responsibility. There was then a site visit with Wirral Council & Merseytravel. After consultation with the local residents the location was changed slightly.

      I tend to go by the electronic map of bus stops and keeping track of them through paper would be problematic. It does look like (from your comment) that once a new bus stop is put in (by Merseytravel), they then communicate this with the bus operators (such as Arriva) and someone has to add it to your list and put it on the noticeboard.

      Strangely the other operators (when I’ve asked their bus drivers on the odd time I’ve got on at that bus stop) seem to know about the stop, so it seems to be (to my knowledge) an Arriva-specific problem.

      It’s obviously a commercial decision if Arriva bus drivers choose not to pick up passengers from this bus stop, I haven’t gone down there to time how long it takes from one bus stop to another walking, as you have to cross Hurrell Road to get to the next one it’s partly dependant on whether there is traffic going in or out of Hurrell Road.

      Looking at the map it’s approximately 200 metres away (an eighth of a mile) if you go to the nearest stop. This is of course assuming the wind isn’t blowing against you, in which case it takes longer. Children would take more time to walk it than adults.

      Walking at:

      2mph (heavy shopping or walking impaired) 3.75 minutes
      3mph 2.5 minutes
      4mph 1.875 minutes

      However extra needs to be added to the above times for stopping, looking for traffic and crossing Hurrell Road.

      Bus stop locations, Hoylake Road, Bidston

      Acknowledgement (picture) Traveline North West/Trapeze Group UK Ltd

      You could however mean the new bus stop on the South side of Hoylake Road, not the North side? I agree the stops on the South side aren’t far apart, but in the rain this allows someone waiting at the stop near the traffic lights to get to a bus shelter quickly.

      I am a little confused as to who (or what body) designates what the bus stops are for that service. If memory serves me correctly there are contracts between Arriva and Merseytravel for how much they receive for concessionary fares (disabled & elderly) as well as to do with other matters.

      The main issue raised with me with passengers getting on and off buses is the steps (which are an integral part of some Arriva buses) and cause great problems for walking stick users and the mobility impaired.

      Despite knowing of passengers that have fallen off buses, I’ve never known of a case where a passenger sued the bus company. The issue as to what is covered by Arriva’s employer’s liability insurance is a matter between Arriva, their insurers, their employees and (if there is one) the relevant union.

      I’d have to look into the issues you raise first in more detail to provide a more detailed response.

      It was not my idea to have the stops put in, it was suggested by residents who live on the Beechwood, one of whom is partially sighted, the other is elderly. After you walk up hill from Tesco with a number of heavy shopping bags, if you have health problems then walking an extra few hundred yards can exacerbate them.

      It was Merseytravel’s suggestion that an extra stop should also go in on the South side, I personally felt it was a little near the other one.

      The last point I wish to raise is that buses have an effect on the average speed of traffic, residents in this area want the issue of road safety dealt with and putting bus stops in (thus lowering the average speed of traffic) is one easy way of doing so.

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