Bus service drives forward

1 Feb 2023 11:27
Published by: Scott Callan

Two operators have been appointed to run Greater Manchester’s first locally controlled bus services since deregulation, including routes serving Bolton borough.
The city region will be the first area outside London to have a regulated bus system since the 1980s. Go North West will operate two large franchises and Diamond Buses will provide services in Bolton and neighbouring boroughs.
Bus operators will be held locally accountable to passengers for the first time – with customer complaints one of several measures to influence operator payments along with punctuality and reliability.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the two companies had both made “commitments around recruitment and pay”.
The franchising model that has been adopted will see control over fares, timetables and services moved away from transport firms and placed in public hands and the appointments are part of the biggest change to public transport in the area in generations.
Mr Burnham said: “Locally controlled bus services are fundamental to our Bee Network vision for a better public transport network for all, and as the first area to do this outside London, Greater Manchester is once again blazing a trail.
“Franchising will enable us to better integrate services as part of a joined-up network, with simpler fares and ticketing, a price cap so no one pays more than they need to, a better customer service offer and a single look for the whole network.
“Passengers are at the very core of our Bee Network vision and when we talk about local accountability, we really mean it.
“That is why at the heart of our contracts with operators will be a performance regime that will influence operator payments based on those factors that we know are of most importance to customers, including punctuality, reliability and customer complaints.”
He added: “I am especially pleased that both operators provided strong social value plans, with commitments around recruitment and pay in line with the city-region’s Good Employment Charter.”
The services will start on September 24 this year, with Go North West to operate two large franchises and Diamond operating seven smaller franchises across Wigan, Bolton and parts of Salford and Bury. Bob Dunn, managing director at Diamond, said: “I am pleased that we have won seven of the 11 franchises that we have bid for and look forward to the new challenges and opportunities.
“We cannot wait to meet our new customers and look forward to continuing to playing a key role in the significant improvements taking place to Greater Manchester’s public transport offer.”
The vision for an integrated public transport network includes integrating the key Wigan-Victoria rail route into the Bee Network from 2025.

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