The future of bus services

Buses are vital to Greater Manchester’s economy and society. Of the 267 million public transport journeys (across bus, rail and tram) in Greater Manchester last year, 79 per cent were by bus.

But, despite significant ongoing subsidy and capital support for bus, and despite more and more people travelling, bus patronage across Greater Manchester has broadly stayed flat. We want to deliver a better solution for customers and the city-region.

Through the introduction of the Bus Services Bill, mayoral combined authorities, such as Greater Manchester, will have the choice to franchise bus services. In Greater Manchester this means that an elected mayor could choose to exercise powers to franchise bus services following the mayoral elections in May 2017.

The current bus system, by its nature, prevents bus services being joined up and coordinated with each other, as well as with other modes of transport such as rail and Metrolink. The number and variety of tickets in Greater Manchester is unduly complicated and passengers have to pay more for a ticket that works across more than one bus operator’s network.

We are currently examining the benefits of different options for the reform of the bus market in Greater Manchester, including a franchise model and other options to ensure that bus fully achieves its potential at the heart of Greater Manchester’s public transport system.