Greater Manchester will be first UK city-region to consult on a bus franchising scheme

Greater Manchester will be the first city-region in the UK to hold a public consultation on the introduction of a bus franchising scheme, using powers available under the Bus Services Act 2017.

At an extraordinary meeting on Monday 7 October, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) gave the go-ahead for a major public consultation into how the buses should be run in Greater Manchester.

A wide range of people will be invited to have their say on the proposed franchising scheme for Greater Manchester from Monday 14 October through to Wednesday 8 January 2020 (more details available later this week).

Bus franchising is currently in place in London and other major global cities, and means bus services – including routes, timetables, fares and standards – would be brought under local control. Greater Manchester would coordinate the bus network and contract bus companies to run the services, with any profit being reinvested in the buses.

GMCA Vice Chair, Councillor Brenda Warrington said: “Buses play a crucial role in our society, helping people make millions of trips every year to work, shops and education, to see friends and family, enjoy the many cultural and leisure opportunities Greater Manchester has to offer, and to access essential healthcare.

“But we need better bus services. Buses are an important part of the ‘Our Network’ ambition to create a modern and accessible public transport system for Greater Manchester. One which brings together different modes of transport into a joined-up, easy-to-use system with seamless connections, simple ticketing and an aspiration for capped fares.

“We want to give people the real choice to leave their cars at home, reduce the number of vehicles on our roads and their harmful emissions, so we have cleaner, greener neighbourhoods.

“This consultation will give everyone the opportunity to have their say on how the bus services are run, and we’re interested in hearing from as many people and organisations as possible.”

An assessment prepared by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has compared the proposed franchising scheme with other realistic options – including new partnerships with the bus companies or leaving bus services as they are now.

It found that the proposed franchising scheme would be the best way to meet Greater Manchester’s objectives and future vision for buses. That includes a joined-up integrated bus and public transport network, simple fares and ticketing, an improved customer experience, and better value for money.

Following the public consultation, GMCA will give its response in a published report. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, would then make a decision on whether to implement the proposed franchising scheme.

Article Published: 08/10/2019 08:46 AM