Manchester’s Bee Network has launched today (September 24) with a range of new tickets that will make travel across the whole city-region cheaper and easier. The new Bee AnyBus + Tram tickets – delivered by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) with support from Greater Manchester TravelCards Ltd (GMTL) – will make combined bus and tram travel around 20 percent cheaper compared to buying products separately.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We know that lower fares make a real difference to people – particularly in today’s challenging times – so I am delighted to be able to announce that not only are we extending the capped bus fares for at least another year, we are cutting the cost of travel even more with our new Bee AnyBus + tram tickets, making multi-modal journeys 20% cheaper from September than they are today.
“We are working to deliver a network for our millions of residents and visitors that is every bit as good as the one Londoners have – one that has frequent, reliable services and low fares – and it starts by bringing buses back under local control in three months’ time.”
What is the Bee Network?
The Bee Network is TfGM’s move to a simplified, integrated and cheaper fare structure and is Greater Manchester’s plan for a ‘London-style’, high volume, low fare, transport system, which will transform the way people travel across the city region. The scheme will link bus and tram together and will launch on September 24 when the city-region becomes the first area to begin to bring buses under local control for the first time in almost 40 years, rolling out bright yellow buses.
How much will travel cost?
Single journey fares on Greater Manchester buses remain at £2 for adults and £1 for children. Bought through the new Bee Network app and other retail channels, it means unlimited journeys on any bus service and any chosen Metrolink zone for as little as £5.40. Unlimited travel on all buses and the entire Metrolink network will cost £7.80 if travelling off-peak, or £9.50 at peak times. In comparison, the average cost of just parking a car in Manchester city centre is £7 for two hours and £10.27 for three hours.
When will the Bee Network scheme start?
As part of the Bee Network, Greater Manchester is bringing buses back under local control in three phases, starting in Wigan, Bolton and parts of Salford and Bury, with services to be operated by Go North West and Diamond from September 24, 2023. The second phase of franchising will take place in Rochdale, Oldham, Bury and parts of Manchester, Salford and Tameside from March 24, 2024 – with Stagecoach, First and Diamond announced as the operators appointed to run these services.
You can find all the new timetables for buses joining the Bee Network here.
What can be found on the Bee Network app?
The new app will be the main way for travel passengers to buy combined Bee AnyBus + Tram tickets that are around 20 percent cheaper than separate standalone tickets.
- The integration of Greater Manchester’s new bus and existing tram services in one place
- Access to real-time departure information to help passengers with their journeys
- Navigational aids showing the stops and stations on the Manchester transport network
- The ability to purchase retail tickets across the Manchester transport network
- In-app mobile tickets, available for use directly from the passenger’s mobile device
- Rate Your Journey where passengers can provide feedback to make bus services accountable
Will the scheme be extended to rail services?
Following the launch of the new Bee AnyBus + Tram tickets, TfGM will be working towards a touch-in/touch-out contactless system that will cap travel made across bus and tram, to be launched in early 2025 in line with the final phase of bus franchising. To help support the ambition for full integration of local train services into the Bee Network by the end of the decade, the Mayor has also confirmed the proposed route for the contactless pilot on rail in Greater Manchester, subject to final business case approval and funding.
First announced as part of the city-region’s trailblazer devolution deal, TfGM has been working closely with Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) and the Department for Transport (DfT) to develop the pilot on services between Stalybridge and Victoria, and Glossop and Piccadilly. The pilot will allow passengers to touch-in and out at the start and end of their journey and, like Metrolink, have their fare automatically worked out for them. This will, for the first time, allow passengers to travel without buying a ticket in advance and provide a faster and more convenient way to travel.
TfGM, DfT and GBRTT will then work together to use the pilot to support the wider ambition of full multi-modal integration into the Bee Network across bus, Metrolink, rail and cycle hire, including fares simplification and capping, by 2030.
For more information head to the Bee Network website here.