Big change on the buses

21 Sep 2023 11:40
Published by: Scott Callan

GREATER Manchester is aiming for 50 million more bus journeys a year by 2030 in a bid to drive forward a “public transport revolution”.
The combined authority says the change will be driven by affordable fares, a more user-friendly and frequent network and better infrastructure to provide more reliable bus journeys.
Plans for new, more responsive and accountable transport decision making have been set out in full for the first time in a new ‘Bus Strategy’.
For the first time in almost 40 years routes will be planned and fares set at local level, with buses being integrated into the flagship ‘Bee Network’ transport system when Greater Manchester becomes the first area to bring buses back under local control from September.
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, says the new strategy sets out a vision “built on affordable fares, high quality services, swift and reliable connections, and clear democratic and customer accountability”.
He said: “Bus franchising will allow us to reimagine the role of buses within a wider integrated transport system and – over time – reshape this critical part of our infrastructure to serve the modern city region.
“More people using our better buses will help reduce congestion and air pollution, support economic growth, create access to opportunities, improve residents’ health and reduce social exclusion: vital elements in building the greener, fairer, and more prosperous Greater Manchester of the future.”
Hundreds of electric buses are due to be rolled out over the next few years. The first 50 will enter service in Wigan, Bolton and parts of Salford and Bury from September as the first step towards ambitions for a fully electric bus fleet by 2032.
Greater Manchester says other new measures – such as a combined tram and bus ticket – will ensure fares are kept as low as possible to promote “the inclusivity, simplicity and access to opportunity they bring”.
And to make bus travel even more attractive, services will run more frequently, with an aim for buses to run at least every 12 minutes on key radial and orbital routes. Plans to provide people with more travel options at night are also being looked into.
The strategy aims to provide 90 per cent of the entire Greater Manchester population with a 30-minute frequency bus or Metrolink service on weekdays within 400m of their home.
Vernon Everitt, Transport Commissioner for Greater Manchester said: “Safe, reliable and affordable buses are at the heart of the integrated Bee Network – bringing together buses, Metrolink, trains and active travel into one joined-up system.
“This will transform public transport for the people and businesses of this fast-growing region and provide an attractive alternative option to using the car.
“This strategy shows how we will continuously improve all aspects of Greater Manchester’s buses, opening up opportunities for new jobs, homes, education and businesses and helping make our region fairer and more sustainable.”

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