Wirral Travel Solutions

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Wirral Travel Solutions

Wirral Travel Solutions is a scheme that has successfully supported Wirral residents in accessing job opportunities. Receiving Public Health funding, the scheme built upon the delivery of Travel Solutions during the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), providing new starters with either a month long travel pass or a bicycle, which they get to keep, or travel training. This helps to reduce the barrier of the cost of travel in starting a new job, removing the issue of needing to pay for travel before receiving the first wage packet.

The scheme is in the second year of a two year funding agreement with Wirral Council’s Public Health team, after year one the project received 2201 referrals, of which 2008 were accepted as meeting the criteria. During LSTF the Travel Solutions team received 6,481 referrals from Wirral residents, of which 3,182 travel tickets and 1,441 bicycles were provided with 149 individuals travel trained. The project has been a successful revenue project for Wirral Council with 84% of clients undertaking the 3 month review still in employment and 91% of clients undertaking the 6 month review still in employment.

Key Statistics

Location: East Wirral, Merseyside
Key Stakeholders:
  • Wirral Council
Construction start date: N/A [revenue based scheme]
Construction completion date: 1st April 2015 – 31st March 2017

Sources of funding



Public health funding: £402,000 (revenue)

Transport and the Economy


Wirral is a coastal borough, in the west of the LCR. It is a peninsula covering around 60 square miles, separated from the rest of the LCR by the River Mersey and from North Wales by the River Dee. To the south, it borders the district of Cheshire West and Chester, to which it is connected by the M53. Wirral is connected to the rest of the LCR via the Mersey Tunnels which run under the River Mersey. The Queensway Tunnel (A41) connects Birkenhead to Liverpool, while the Kingsway Tunnel (A59) connects Wallasey to Liverpool. The Mersey Railway Tunnel provides an additional connection, and is crucial in linking Wirral to the rest of the City Region. Consequently, Liverpool, Chester and North Wales are easily commutable from Wirral.

The total number of employees in Wirral in 2014 was approximately 97,700 (ONS, 2015). Of these, a total of 60,700 (62.1%) were in full-time jobs and 37,000 (37.9%) were part time. Employment in Wirral is strongly concentrated in public services (37.5%), financial and business services (16%) and wholesale, retail and motor trades (15.3%).

The percentage of households without a car at a Ward level within Wirral demonstrates that rates of access to a car or van vary significantly between urban areas in Wirral. For example, in Heswall, 10% of households have no access to a car or van, but in Birkenhead that rate is 55.6%, well above the North-West and England average.

Rationale for investment

The project helps to deliver the long term vision of Merseyside’s Local Transport Plan (LTP) in developing a transport network and mobility culture that positively contributes to a thriving economy and the health and wellbeing of its citizens and where sustainable travel is the option of choice.

Wirral Travel Solutions help to deliver modal shift to low emission, sustainable travel which promotes healthier lifestyles.  Travel Solutions ensures equality of travel opportunity for all, enabling people to connect easily with employment supporting individuals who would not be able to take up an opportunity of employment or training due to a number of circumstances such as cost, location, and knowledge.

The wealth gap for residents in within Wirral and the LCR and the rest of the country needs to be bridged and this project will help, as residents will be supported with transport options when entering employment or training increasing their chance of sustaining the employment for a longer period helping to decrease the wealth gap.

The Wirral Travel Solutions project links with the aims of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority by helping to tackle youth unemployment (NEETs), by helping adults back into work and enterprise. The project supports skills development, supporting Wirral’s residents to play an active role in the local economy, social growth and connectivity.

Scheme objectives

  • To improve Wirral residents travel horizons.
  • To help tackle youth unemployment (NEETs), by removing transport as a barrier.
  • Help adults back into work or training.
  • To encourage modal shift away from the private car and to sustainable modes of transport during the commuter period.
  • Support people in gaining the skills to travel independently on public transport, and how to effectively plan their own journey.

Appraisal and selection

Scheme development

The scheme has grown over a number of years, originally with a scooter commuter option which loaned scooters to residents gaining employment within the Mersey – Dee area. Travel Training was then included before the scheme expanded further under the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. This expansion saw the offer increase to include bicycles and monthly travel passes. The scheme also included a pilot for a taxi sharing scheme, with pre-loaded cards. Under the public health funding and with a reduced budget the scheme focused on bicycles, public transport passes, travel training and journey planning.

Scheme prioritisation

The project was included within Wirral Council’s pipeline of schemes which included short / medium and long term solutions and included both revenue and capital projects.

Business case development

The targets for the Travel Solutions project were based on data from 2013/14 during the LSTF project. It was anticipated that the project would receive the following number of referrals (between 1800 – 2100). This would provide a rough approximation of an aggregate spend of £1,000 per client. However, the cost of supporting residents in accessing job opportunities, particularly for NEETS would be off set against the cost of JSA.  For those moving jobs rather than entering employment there would be the added benefit of increasing household GVA.  The business case is built upon the wider benefits to the local economy rather direct benefits to transport. The project undertakes 3 and 6 month reviews to see whether the applicant is still in employment. It was anticipated that the 3 month reviews would have 65 – 70% of clients still in employment or training and at the 6 month review 60 – 65% of clients would still in employment or training.

Monitoring plan

The Travel Solutions team undertake 3 and 6 month reviews with all clients, 3 attempts are made to contact the client. A short survey is undertaken to ascertain whether they are still in employment, whether they still use the same mode of transport and whether they were happy with the service provided.


Scheme delivery

The scheme was delivered internally by Wirral Council staff. There were four members of staff to deliver the scheme: a Travel Solutions Co-ordinator, a Travel Solutions Assistant and two Travel Trainers. Clients could either be referred to the scheme by a third party or they could undertake a self-referral. The process was through an online referral form and once processed, if eligible, the client was contacted by the Travel Solutions team. The following criteria was used for eligibility, the client has to either be an east Wirral resident or the job would need to be in east Wirral (open to Wirral residents only), the job had to be longer than 12 weeks and be over 16 hours work per week.

From the referral form the team was able to ascertain the best mode of travel for that client and offer that solution to the client. The client would then book an appointment to receive the solution, if this was a travel pass then this would be provided during the appointment with photos being taken and the pass produced, if the solution was for a bicycle a voucher would be provided for the client to pick up the bike from a local shop. The client would be required to provide proof of address and job evidence to meet the criteria to be eligible for the scheme.

The Travel Trainers offer clients one-to-one practical sessions which gives them the skills and knowledge they need to carry out journeys independently and with confidence. This can be very helpful if they have not previously travelled alone before. The journey could be as simple as accompanying a client to a new place like school or college for the first time, or it could be more detailed support if they are not sure how to use public transport at all. Depending on the confidence of the client travel training could take between 6 to 10 weeks.

Evaluating the investment

Survey data has revealed so far that targets of users are being met and that most of the users of the scheme are still in employment after 3-6 months.

KPITargetActual Data
Other (2015/16 data)1800 – 2100 clients2201 referrals, 2008 were accepted as meeting the criteria
Travel Cards - 1085
Cycles - 484
Travel training - 47
Percentage of clients undertaking 3 month reviews 65 – 70% of clients64%
Percentage of clients undertaking 6 month reviews60 – 65% of clients66%
Percentage of clients still in employment at 3 month review84% of clients undertaking the review
Percentage of clients still in employment at 6 month review91% of clients undertaking the review

Process Evaluation

A high level process evaluation has revealed that the project is successfully being delivered as planned.

Timing of activityThe project has been delivered on time with the number of solutions provided monitored closely to ensure they did not exceed budget limits
Project deliveryThe project has successfully been delivered during the first year of public health funding and is currently in quarter 3 of year 2.
Stakeholders and partnership workingOver the years the project has worked with a number of partners:
  • Job Centre Plus

  • Princes Trust

  • Pinewood Training

  • A4E

  • Reachout
Unexpected outcomesNone
External factorsThe number of referrals varied monthly and constant promotion was needed to remind partners of the service.


Wirral Travel Solutions is a scheme that has successfully supported Wirral residents in accessing job opportunities. The project has been a successful revenue project for Wirral Council with 84% of clients undertaking the 3 month review still in employment and 91% of clients undertaking the 6 month review still in employment.

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