£11.5m Bus Franchising Investigation by TfGM

£11.5m Bus Franchising Investigation by TfGM
Andy Burnham amongst others at the official launch of an electric bus trial in Manchester.Tom Harrison

Transport for Greater Manchester is set to gain ground on plans to introduce bus franchising in the Greater Manchester region with £11.5m set aside for the next two years to progress the plans.

At least three in every four public transport journeys in Greater Manchester are made by bus. And yet, there has been a steady decline in the number of people travelling by bus.

More than 40 bus operators run services in Greater Manchester. Because it’s a deregulated market, no single organisation is responsible for planning the bus network or setting fares.

As a result, the current system prevents bus services being fully joined up and coordinated with each other, as well as different types of transport.

In April 2017 the Bus Services Act became law, giving Mayoral authorities like Greater Manchester powers to improve bus services by reforming the current bus market. The options available include franchising – the system used in London and other cities globally – and partnerships.

Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor, made a commitment in his manifesto to use these new powers to make local bus services more affordable, more reliable and more accessible.

TfGM says: “It is currently expected that Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will consider the proposals this summer, and make a decision on whether to proceed and hold a public consultation.

“This consultation would give the public an opportunity to have their say on TfGM’s assessment of a proposed franchising scheme.”

It is expected that a decision on whether to go ahead with franchising would be made by the end of the year.

The scheme is being championed by elected Labour Mayor, Andy Burnham, who has talked about introducing a “London style” franchised system.

“I get more complaints about the buses than anything else,” Mr Burnham told BBC Radio Manchester back in December.

“Yes, we will be moving ahead with the powers we have with plans to re-regulate the buses.

“We won’t be putting the buses in public hands as the government has ruled that out. However, we can have a regulated system like London.

“Their system light years ahead of ours.”

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