Manchester bus franchising begins but what next?


Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has hailed a ‘momentous day’ as the first franchised buses on the region’s Bee Network took to the streets on Sunday morning.

Transport for Greater Manchester is the first transport authority to use the new franchising powers in the Bus Services Act 2017 after decades of deregulation.

Go North West won the first two contracts to operate Bee Network buses on routes in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Salford and Bury.

A fleet of 320 buses will operate 50 routes – the first part of a network that is intended to span buses, trams, trains and bikes across the city, with all buses in the region due to be franchised by 2025.

As the first buses left Go North West depots in Bolton and Wigan on Sunday morning, the firm said the mobilisation was the culmination of months of preparation by a team of 600 people at its parent company, the Go-Ahead Group, which deployed bus drivers from across the UK to help with the launch.

Go North West managing director Nigel Featham said: ‘It’s been a real pleasure to welcome the first customers on board our Bee Network buses – the response we’ve had from the public today has been terrific.

‘We’ve been preparing for today’s launch for many months and it’s fantastic to see the buses out on the road.'

Graham Vidler, CEO of trade body the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: ‘The launch of the Bee Network is just the start. ‘We also need a package of bus priority measures which reduce congestion, speed up journey times, keep fares low and ensure buses are reliable - factors we know are important for passengers.’

Norman Baker of Campaign for Better Transport said: ‘When public transport works, the benefits for communities and the environment are immense.’

Last week the Local Government Association and the Urban Transport Group called for all areas in England to have the same rights to introduce bus franchising as mayoral combined authorities, to end a 'spiral of decline'.

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus