With exactly six months to go before Greater Manchester brings buses back under local control, the first yellow Bee Network co-branded buses have been unveiled, which are due to hit the streets in the coming weeks. Diamond, along with Go North West, will run the first franchised services in Wigan and Bolton and parts of Salford and Bury from September 24, marking the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years.
To get ready for the change, Diamond – who currently run services in Bolton – has agreed to start transforming their buses into Bee Network yellow now, with more set to appear on the Manchester roads every month. The first branded bus entered service on Friday (March 24) and will serve the number 8 route connecting Bolton and Manchester city centre via Farnworth and Salford.
When franchising is introduced in September, 50 brand new electric Bee Network buses will be introduced on day one, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet, including Vantage buses. A further 50 electric buses will also be introduced onto the network in March 2024, when the second part of franchising starts.
The reveal of the new yellow co-branded bus comes as an order is placed for a further 170 electric buses that will operate in and around Stockport by 2024. All of the 270 new electric buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems and anti-slip flooring.
The buses will be jointly funded by Stagecoach and local and national government, with Stagecoach’s £37.2m investment match-funded by £35.7m from Greater Manchester’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) fund and a local contribution of £12.5m. To support the roll out of a new fleet of environmentally friendly buses, Greater Manchester has been awarded £7.5m from the Department of Levelling-Up Housing and Communities to buy land for a leading electronic bus depot.
A potential site at Central Park has been identified that would hold 250 electric buses and provide new, highly skilled jobs now and in the future. It would also support ongoing regeneration and help to deliver on Greater Manchester’s ambition for a zero-emission bus fleet by 2032. TfGM is also looking to take control of existing bus depots by buying or leasing them, before refurbishing and transforming them into modern, high-tech, sustainable facilities.
And to help passengers make seamless journeys, a new Bee Network app will enable customers to buy tram and bus tickets and access real time information on services. With punctuality and reliability, as well as levels of complaints, impacting what operators get paid, the app will also enable passengers to rate their service and give feedback to the Bee Network Customer Contact Centre. In time the app will include walking and cycling routes and enable people to easily access and use Greater Manchester’s cycle hire scheme.
Find out more about the roll-out of yellow buses in Greater Manchester here.