03Policy priority 3: Make it easier for people to move around the city region and get to the city centre

  • Introduce a congestion charge in Liverpool city centre. Congestion is costly, and charging congestion will lead to more reliable journeys, reduced carbon emissions, increased turnover of car parking land for development, and support public transport investment.
  • Press ahead with progress on bus franchising. Use these new revenues and the money unlocked by the recent National Bus Strategy to build a bus service that works for the entire city region.
  • Re-introduce bus lanes on key strategic roads. This would ensure bus travel is rapid and efficient, helping people shift out of their cars and onto an improved public transport network.

Equipping people with the right skills for the labour market is important, but it means little if people are not able to connect with the opportunities the city region offers. Yet, as with many other large urban authorities, Liverpool local authority faces a challenge when it comes to congestion: at peak times, its city centre is one of the least accessible in the country, both by private and public transport. 10

One proven way to quickly reduce congestion is to introduce a congestion charge for vehicles entering Liverpool city centre.Evidence suggests that cities where vehicles are asked to pay a congestion charge have seen considerable reductions in traffic: in London, traffic dropped by 21 per cent since the introduction of the charge,11 and in Milan it dropped by 28 per cent.12 In addition, a congestion charge will also help reduce pollution in the city region, and the money it raises can be used to invest in public transport infrastructure, increasing bus services and reducing fares.

To make the most of a congestion charge, the mayor should complete the progress made towards bus franchising. Over the past decade, there has been a 10 per cent reduction in bus passenger numbers in the city region,13 but thanks to the Bus Services Act 2017 the mayor has the powers to address these issues by taking control over bus services in the city region. The current mayor has already taken steps in this direction: he launched a consultation, and is currently working on the business case for franchising, which is the ‘leading option’. Bus franchising is also supported by the new National Bus Strategy, and would unlock millions of pounds of central funding for Liverpool City Region. The new mayor will now have to press ahead with these changes and introduce a city-wide service that connects people with opportunities.

Alongside taking control over the bus network, the mayor should push for the re-introduction of bus lanes on key strategic roads.14 Plans for bus priority lanes along ‘Green Route’ bus corridors should be accelerated and extended. This would ensure that buses are reliable, quick and efficient, making it easier for people to trust the bus to help them reach Liverpool city centre, especially at peak times. All of these options together would support and improve each other, help make public transport more useful and equitable, and improve the city region’s wider economy.


  • 10 Jeffrey S & Enenkel K (2020) ‘Getting moving’, London: Centre for Cities
  • 11 Clayton N, Breach A & Jeffrey S (2017) ‘Funding and finance for inclusive growth’, London: Centre for Cities
  • 12 Bailly A (2018) ‘How can UK cities clean up the air we breathe?’, London: Centre for Cities
  • 13 Jeffrey S (2019) ‘Delivering change: improving urban bus services’, London: Centre for Cities
  • 14 The National Bus Strategy sets out plans to consult on giving metro mayors control over the Key Route Network in their area.