More than 60 bus routes and services linking communities across Greater Manchester have been saved from being withdrawn or from having their frequencies reduced in October.
Throughout the pandemic, government funding helped to maintain public transport services across the country, as the significant reductions in patronage threatened their commercial viability.
With the threat of national funding ending on 4 October, Greater Manchester’s leaders developed plans to safeguard at-risk services.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has today, Wednesday 7 September, confirmed contract awards to replace the 31 routes earmarked for withdrawal, while most of the 33 services set to be reduced in frequency or have routes changed will also be replaced, except in a small number of cases where alternative services are available.
Without the intervention, some communities would have been left with much reduced – and in some cases a complete lack of – bus services, adversely impacting their ability to reach a range of critical services, including employment and education opportunities, as well as family and friends.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “With Greater Manchester set to start bringing buses back under local control in just over a year, and having introduced new low bus fares just this week, it was vital we didn’t find ourselves with a shrinking bus network.
“That is why we took the decision to step in, save these services and keep our communities connected.
“Buses are the backbone of our public transport system, and while this is good news for the tens of thousands of people who rely on them every single day, we now need more people to get on board with us, so we can grow and sustain a much-improved public transport network.”
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has also been able to retain cross boundary links and frequencies through collaboration with neighbouring authorities and negotiations and contract awards with operators.
The cost is within the estimated £15 million per annum, with funding to come from a combination of existing budgets and government funding. Other significant local funds have also been allocated to improve bus services across the city-region, including the £135m to transition to bus franchising and funding for Our Pass, providing free travel to 16 – 18-year-olds.
Greater Manchester is also investing in the bus system through new vehicles, in updating the ticketing technology, and infrastructure, such as bus priority lanes, which are funded by new capital and revenue grants from government.
Councillor Andrew Western, Chair of the Greater Manchester Transport Committee, said: “Through the delivery of the Bee Network we will help people by providing a quality public transport network that is integrated, reliable, and offers value for money.
“Buses are integral to this and over the next few years we will look to build growth by delivering new quality bus routes, with cleaner buses, integrated fares and better customer information.
“We can only fully realise our ambitious plans for the Bee Network if people get on board and back us by using their local bus or tram service.”
TfGM is continuing to make the case to government for continued funding as an integrated plan is developed to promote growth of public transport across Greater Manchester through to 2025 and beyond.
Article Published: 07/09/2022 15:27 PM