I had cause recently to visit Liverpool, I have always liked the City and recall going there when I was a student where my mate from Uni John Mac used to bring me back to his family home and we would pop into the City and sample the local pubs.

These included the Philharmonic and a legendary boozer called the Baltic Fleet the landlord was an eccentric fellow who used to walk around the pub with a parrot on his shoulder. I was delighted to discover that the Baltic Fleet some thirty years on is still going strong. I would be rather surprised if the parrot was however.

The reason that I visited was to meet a very nice chap called Matt who i have known for some years when he was formally an employee of National Express. Since those heady days he has done very well and is now the Head of Buses for Mersey travel, I had never visited the head offices of Mersey Travel before and I have to say that they are very impressive.

Situated slap bang in the middle of the historic docks next door to the iconic Liver building, they were built five years ago and look really stylish, with sleek dark green glass and stone it sits very nicely in the renovated docklands that I recalled from my student days all those years ago.

Matt has some clear and exciting plans for the future of Mersey Travel, the options of a newly elected mayor as well as the possibility of franchising that is arising from the Buses Bill all add new options that did not exist before. The Bus Alliance has been a great success with Stagecoach and Arriva working closely together to operate coordinated timetables and joint ticketing resulting in healthy bus patronage.

However new legislation brings the potential for new thinking that was not available before so Matt and his team will be sensible to do a root and branch review of all the available options. Be that extending quality partnerships or indeed considering franchising as an option for all or indeed parts of the network.

Either way I will watch with interest just what happens next in the Mersey Travel kingdom. My advice also for what it is worth is simple, if you have not visited Liverpool do yourself a favour and spend a weekend there it is a vibrant, friendly and cultured City with a great deal to offer.