It was the closest date to its 1st December 1969 formation. Yet, did we have to pick such a cold, rain-sodden November Sunday to celebrate 40 years of Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive? I thought I ought to show my support in case my director general Neil Scales was present. He had more sense.
On my Merseyrail journey into Liverpool, I reflected upon MPTE’s successes. The zenith was the 1977 completion of the rail loop & link. That and the testament to the DG’s tenacity, transforming Merseyrail in 2003 from Misery to Mastery.
The Birkenhead-Liverpool-Wallasey original MPTE constituents were joined in 1974 by Southport & St Helen's. The glass fibre-fronted Leyland PD2 with sculpted nearside St Helen's bonnet, so named because the corporation was the first to receive them, assisted drivers in getting a kerbside view. This particularly handsome type lasted till the mid-1970sPerhaps MPTE’s bus legacy was the demonstration project that introduced the first low floor buses in Britain. Its battery buses were less successful at changing opinion.
Another MPTE inheritance was this old-looking Leyland Panther/Metro Cammell, for early OMO conversions. To the right is a Crosville Bristol RE. Unlike at WMPTE and next door SELNEC PTE, MPTE worked with rather than absorbed local operators, Crosville and Ribble
Loss of direct influence hasn’t stopped MPTE embarking on significant bus infrastructure improvements, including bus stations: Queen’s Square, Birkenhead, Paradise Street—but it still manages decline. Instability at and after Dereg meant passengers fled the bus service. If they didn’t take to their cars, they appreciated the solidity of rail, something I appreciate, sitting comfortably on a Northern Line, packed even on a Sunday morning.
40 years of successes there may have been but MPTE still winces at the loss of the opportunity to build its beloved tram. Paradise or Liverpool One bus station looks a little empty without one
The director general, given the chance, wants to replicate his rail successes on the road. Could this mean SQBPs or even quality contracts, any new government permitting? Those who will celebrate MPTE’s *50th* anniversary in 10 years may be able to judge him.
Stagecoach and successor to the successor Arriva have both invested heavily in new buses, in the last five years. Double decks came briefly into fashion for services to the south and west while, below, an 09-reg VDL/Wrightbus Pulsar 2 passes the 1969-1974 liveries of Wirral (combining Birkenhead & Wallasey) and Liverpool