A report detailing proposals to change the way bus services are delivered in Greater Manchester - including proposals to introduce a Bus Franchising Scheme - has been heard by Manchester City Council.
Tens of thousands of Mancunians use buses to get to and from work and to travel throughout the region during their day-to-day lives, with a range of private companies currently responsible for the delivery of services across the city region. In 2017, 21 per cent of people travelling into the city centre during the peak morning hours did so by bus.
As Manchester moves towards becoming carbon neutral by 2038 at the latest, the prioritisation of low-carbon, environmentally friendly methods of transport is even more important to the long-term health of the city.
The report highlights five key areas where the Council believes that a franchising scheme for Greater Manchester could deliver improvements for the region’s bus network:
- Overall service quality
- Punctuality and reliability
- Improvement to scheduling - particularly during the evenings and on Sundays
- Fares - fragmented fares across the system need to be addressed and simplified
- Ticketing - we need a system that is joined up across Manchester, where people are not penalised by having to buy additional tickets when they are moving from north to south, or east to west
A franchising model also opens up opportunities for a more democratic transport system across Greater Manchester. An integrated system of fares and timetables which works across the bus, tram and rail network would make a real change in improving connectivity and ensuring the system is reactive to the changing needs of commuters across the region.
The fundamental principle of transport in Greater Manchester should be how can it best serve our residents. As set out in the report, a franchising model would allow a consistent set of standards to be put in place across the network, with a unified brand setting out fares and joined up travel information.
A consultation led by Transport for Greater Manchester, on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, runs until 8 January 2020, at www.gmconsult.org. The consultation’s results will influence the decision on whether to introduce a Franchising Scheme for the region’s buses, which is set to be made by the Mayor of Greater Manchester later in 2020.
Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport for Manchester City Council, said: “We have been listening to our residents’ concerns about the city’s bus network and believe that an integrated system would benefit our residents and help the city reach its economic, social and environmental ambitions.
“We know that there are inconsistencies in the bus services currently on offer in Manchester that just do not work for the public. The nature of the provision is uneven, with the most profitable routes always given priority over routes that connect communities. We want a joined up system with seamless connections with an aspiration for flat fares that will benefit passengers across Manchester, not just those who live close to key traffic arteries.
“With the right network and operating model, buses can become a real alternative to journeys by private car, helping us improve air quality, cut congestion and carbon emissions, while connecting more residents with jobs, leisure and cultural facilities.
“Franchising is a step towards supporting our city on its journey to a greener and more prosperous future. A consultation on the proposals for Greater Manchester’s buses is currently under way and we encourage residents to respond to it and make their voices heard.”