Transport bosses in Greater Manchester have said they are ‘gearing up to take the next steps’ towards a possible bus franchising scheme but suggested progress had been hampered by legislative requirements.
As previously reported on Transport Network, the region’s transport body, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is currently preparing an assessment of a proposed franchising scheme on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) under mayor Andy Burnham.
This includes carrying out a ‘wide-ranging market engagement’.
A spokesperson for TfGM told Transport Network that in line with the Bus Services Act, it has ‘requested and received a substantial amount of information from bus operators, which is allowing us to refine our proposals’.
TfGM said that Greater Manchester is ‘leading the way’ in this area and is the first to test out the legislation, adding that while the pace at which it can progress has largely been dictated by the legislative process, ‘we’re now gearing up to take the next steps as instructed by GMCA’.
It added that a meeting of the GMCA on 27 July instructed it to take a number of actions ‘so that plans to reform the bus market can progress as quickly as possible in line with the legislative process’.
This included instructing TfGM to secure the conditional availability and preliminary briefing of an independent auditor, so that it can be ready to prepare a report on the franchising assessment, as required by the legislation.
It also included instructing TfGM to prepare a public consultation, which would take place if the combined authority decides to proceed with the scheme following completion of the assessment and having obtained the auditor’s report.
TfGM said that the timescales for these next steps would depend on how long it takes to complete the assessment and obtain the auditor’s report but that ‘subject to the outcome of ongoing discussions with bus operators with respect to the information requested’, its anticipates reporting back to the combined authority later this year.