Andy Burnham confirmed the news just this afternoon.
Following conversations between council leaders regarding bringing Greater Manchester’s bus network back under local control, Andy Burnham has confirmed that the region’s buses will, in fact, be franchised – in a historic move which will mark the biggest change in the system since the 80s. The bus system in Manchester was previously run by nationwide companies such as Stagecoach and First.
So, what does that mean?
While bus services will still be operated by private companies, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will take control of the fares we pay, timetables, routes, and the ticketing system, too, which the GMCA will integrate across trains, buses and trams by 2025. The system will work similarly to London’s, which is operated by TfL, where tickets are valid both on the London Underground and the bus network, too.
The changes will make Manchester the first city-region outside of London to run buses under local control.
The local authority plans to introduce price capping, making sure public transport users never pay more than they have to to use the services, as well as better timetable planning to ensure smoother routes for those who use both the bus and tram to make their journeys.
GMCA can set environmental standards for a cleaner, greener bus fleet, helping to meet the city-region’s targets to tackle the climate emergency, reduce harmful emissions and clean up our air.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Public transport is essential for any successful city-region, and our buses are the backbone of Greater Manchester’s transport network. As Greater Manchester recovers from the pandemic and grows in the future, we must develop our public transport network, alongside walking and cycling, to support the increasing number of journeys we will all be making.
“In Greater Manchester, we’ve always done things differently and been trailblazers especially in the field of transport; we had the first passenger railway; the first ‘bus’ route with a horse-drawn carriage and now I’ve decided that we will be the first outside London to run our buses differently – under local control, so that decisions are made at a local level for the benefit of our passengers.
“My decision will mean that we can integrate our buses as part of a joined-up network, so passengers can easily switch between different types of transport. It means simpler fares and ticketing with price capping, so no one pays more than they need to. It also means a ‘one-stop-shop’ for travel information and a single identity for the whole public transport network, which is attractive, clearly recognisable and easy for passengers to navigate and understand.
Adding: “Ultimately, this means a different way of moving around for everyone in our city-region, as we move towards Our Network; our ambition of a world-class, integrated transport network which can unlock opportunity for all; providing access to jobs and education, reducing pollution, attracting investment and reducing isolation.
“Bringing buses into local control will be the biggest change to Greater Manchester’s buses since de-regulation in 1986. But as with all change for the better, it will take time; it won’t happen overnight and we are just at the start of our journey. I hope the people, businesses and communities of Greater Manchester come with us on the journey, so we can create a joined-up public transport network that works for the benefit of passengers and our city-region.”
The changes will be implemented in gradual phases, with the first franchised buses set to embark on their first journeys in 2023 across Bolton and Wigan.