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Issue:- 6 May / 5 May 2009

Celebrating success, delivering improvements

MERSEYTRAVEL has launched a new document celebrating its successes during 2008 and setting a blueprint for its vision over the next 5 years.  Performance Highlights, launched in partnership with Merseyside’s Police and Fire Authorities, celebrates a host of achievements for the pioneering transport executive and authority in 2008.

Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, said:- “Merseytravel enjoyed a very successful 2008; it is a year which has laid the foundation for a lasting legacy in public transport and for the region.  Liverpool’s year in the global spotlight, as European Capital of Culture, is one of the most obvious success stories and I hope the momentum forged through the cooperation and goodwill between Merseytravel and all the agencies involved in the delivery of the 2008 celebrations continues through 2009 and beyond.”

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, said:- “We are continuing to push for our goal; to be a world class organisation providing a transport system accessible to everyone.  We had a very successful 2008, but over the years we have worked hard to ensure the building blocks are firmly in place to continue to do more.  The investments we have made, and continue to make, are strengthened by the knowledge that we have proved our ability to meet the public transport needs of a world class event.”

Some of the highlights include the Mersey Ferries, on which almost 700,000 journeys were made in 2008, 30% up on 2007.

Merseytravel has become the 1st PTE in the UK to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard, reducing its carbon footprint year on year – by 7% alone since 2006.

Under and Over the Mersey (pictured), organised by Merseytravel as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations, was voted best event of the year at the North West Chartered Institute of Public Relations PRide Awards 2008.

Another Under and Over the Mersey event will take place on 19 July 2009, bigger and better than the last...

A total of 50 million miles and 150 million passenger journeys were made on the Merseyside bus network in 2008.

The Merseyrail Electrics network and the City Line combined saw more than 38 million journeys made during the year.

Online, Merseytravel’s website is breaking all records, with around one million hits every month.

The report also outlines Merseytravel’s investment programme, including the completed Olive Mount Chord scheme, improved stations at Sandhills and Bootle Oriel Road stations, better facilities at Bank Hall, Birkdale, Brunswick, Hall Road, Leasowe, Maghull, Rice Lane and Walton stations and the newly opened The U-Boat Story attraction at Woodside ferry terminal.

Merseyrail remains one of the best performing rail networks in the country and can now be considered one of the safest after becoming one of the first fully secure rail networks in the UK.

Over the next 5 years, Merseytravel is aiming to maintain the momentum of its investment and service improvement programme.

It is aiming to construct a new landing stage at Pier Head to complement the new terminal building, support the development of new passenger facilities at Liverpool Lime Street station, enhance access into Liverpool City Centre, upgrade park and ride facilities at Bidston, Birkenhead North and Broad Green stations, as well as access improvements at many others.

Plans continue to be developed to extend the rail network to Headbolt Lane, Kirkby and Wrexham and re-open the Halton Curve to introduce a service between Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn and Chester.

Other plans include:-

* Increasing CCTV on bus and rail services and continue to work with partners to reduce the number of incidents on the transport network

* Reducing carbon emissions and operating in a more sustainable manner

* Using the new powers of the Local Transport Act to improve and more fully integrate the transport network

* Working with bus and rail operators to improve the reliability of transport information

Public Transport going nowhere with disability

DISABLED commuters in the North West forced to pay more for an inconsistent and inaccessible public transport system across the UK, as revealed by a 3 month undercover investigation.  The investigative report End of the Line, being presented to Parliament, includes over 200 mystery commuter journeys.  The trips were undertaken by young disabled campaigners in order to assess the state of our nation’s public transport system.

End of the Line is the 1st report as part of the Inclusion Now campaign being organised by the Trailblazers – the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s nationwide network of 16 to 30 year olds who are fighting for the rights of young disabled people.

Having completed surveys every time the Trailblazers made a journey on public transport, as well as using blogs and focus groups, today’s report exclusively reveals:-

· wheelchair users are forced to pay more to use public transport than their non-disabled peers; [A typical train journey from London to Manchester with a Disabled Adult’s Railcard costs £35.65 while a typical coach journey would cost £13.20.  The majority of coaches are inaccessible, leaving trains as the only option available for longer journeys]

· 50% of trains lacked basic disabled facilities at stations and on board the trains;

· on 33% of bus journeys, the mystery commuter was unable to board the 1st bus which arrived at the bus stop;  [This is a consequence of the access ramp being broken, the accessible space on the buses being unavailable or the driver failing to stop]

· 40% of the young disabled people were forced to pay more to use a wheelchair accessible taxi, compared with their non-disabled peers; [As a result of the strain of using the bus and rail networks many disabled people feel forced to use taxis to be able to travel around a town or city.]

These results come 4 years after the Disability Discrimination Act came into force, suggesting that transport providers are still failing to fulfil their duties in providing an equal service to disabled commuters.

The young campaigners will present their findings to MPs and Peers at the House of Commons, where they will call on the Government and local authorities, together with transport providers, to review their accessibility policies.

Trailblazer Ambassador, 19 year old Jessica Berry from Cheshire, with limb girdle muscular dystrophy, said:- “Most people find it easy to get around and be independent, but when you are disabled simple tasks like travelling spontaneously can be extremely difficult. 

It’s incredible that transport providers think the level of service they currently provide for disabled commuters is good enough. 

The End of the Line report shows there is still a long way to go before the transport system in the UK really is accessible.

I hope that by joining forces with other young disabled campaigners from across the UK we’ll have a real impact and access to public transport can be improved.”

Commenting on the Trailblazers’ report, a spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:- “The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomes the Trailblazers and their current campaign to promote access to public transport.  Although the Disability Discrimination Act started to come into force in December 2006 many disabled people still not do experience equal access to transport, leisure facilities and education."

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who will meet with campaigners in Parliament, said:- “Many people with muscle disease feel that our public transport system does not meet the needs of its passengers.  I hope that the report’s findings will help boost independence and improve the quality of life for all people living with muscle disease.   It’s fantastic that young people are being given the opportunity to see their ideas make a difference and have an impact in their local communities.”

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is the only national charity focusing on all muscle diseases.  It invests £3 million a year in care support services, research, muscle centres, networks, information and resources.  It has pioneered the search for treatments and cures for 50 years and provides practical, medical and emotional support to people affected.

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