SLEEPLESS RESIDENTS: More bad news for the Bus Hub
Image: Google Maps
People living near a new city centre bus facility have been left unable to sleep due to noise from vehicles late at night and early in the morning.
It is just one of a catalogue of issues facing residents and businesses near the Old Haymarket Bus Hub, a recently opened Liverpool Council facility.
The hub is being used as part of a wider overhaul of the city centre’s road network and bus routes. Its aim is to reduce the number of vehicles parking up in other areas of the city centre and increasing congestion.
But residents, most of whom strongly and vocally opposed the plans for the hub, said that they have been left facing noise and other disruption since it became fully operational a few weeks ago.
At a recent meeting held with ward councillors and representatives from the council, Merseytravel and bus operators to try to resolve the issues, neighbours said the problems started early in the morning and extended until very late at night.
Bill Watson, a long term resident of the area, said the disruption from buses idling caused regular shaking in his home nearby.
He said: “There is a rumbling through the floors. I have metal window frames and they shake regularly. It starts very early in the morning and goes on until late in the evening.
“The promise was made that the buses wouldn’t idle. I understand that there are issues for the drivers with that but the plans were passed on that basis.”
Other residents reported similar issues, with many saying their mental health had suffered as a result of the noise, disruption to sleep and tensions with some bus drivers and marshals who work at the hub.
Pictures and videos captured in recent weeks have also showed drivers parking on a section of Old Haymarket that has not yet been approved for usage, because of capacity issues.
Sarah Lovelock, owner of Lovelock’s Coffee, said the issues made her extremely pessimistic about her ability to run her business in the area in the long term.
She said that the cafe, currently closed due to lockdown restrictions, saw revenues plunge during the construction of the hub and she was could not see a path to regaining that custom under hub’s current method of operation.
Ms Lovelock said: “I went to the shop the other day just to sort some things and I had to leave. I just couldn’t bear it.
“Myself and other business owners have strived to make a community here as independents and I feel like this has just eradicated it.
“I can’t stress enough how much it has affected the area.”
She said her lease would be expiring soon and she was unsure about whether to renew it, something she said was shared by neighbouring businesses.
The city council, Merseytravel and the bus operators that use the hub have all said that they remain committed to improving the situation and vowed to improve and speed up the system for dealing with complaints.
Howard Farrall, managing director of Arriva Merseyside, said the idling issue was indefensible and vowed to tackle it, as did fellow bus operators Stagecoah.
However, Mr Farrall said some issues at the hub were due to specific circumstances associated with the pandemic.
He said that with many of the city centre’s businesses and public facilities shut down under lockdown restrictions, the bus hub is now one of the few places where drivers have consistent access to toilet facilities during their shifts.
That, he said, had increased the number of drivers parking at the hub.
Mr Farrall said: “There are a lot of things we can do to improve the situation.
“The idling issue is something we need to tackle immediately. That should not be happening.”
Councillor Sharon Connor, Liverpool Council’s cabinet member for highways, and councillor Liam Robinson, chair of Merseytravel, said they would continue to work with the bus companies to improve the hub’s operation and to reduce the impact on residents.
The meeting to approve the use of the part of the hub that is not yet open is set to take place in the coming months, allowing the council to capture more data on the hub before making a decision.
However, neighbours say the location of the hub is the ultimate issue.
Mr Watson said: “There is a war going on between buses and the residents.
“What I have heard about resolving these problems so far just does not reassure me.”
Words: Nick Tyrrell, Local Democracy Reporter
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