Alternative offer for Mayor’s Manchester plan

£100m partnership blueprint aims to deflect from Andy Burnham’s ambition to franchise Manchester’s bus network.
Plans unveiled by OneBus, the city’s bus operator partnership, are intended to deliver better connectivity for local communities, ease the cost of travel and tackle the region’s growing congestion and air pollution. The blueprint is consistent with the new powers in the Bus Services Act.

Among its proposals is an investment in 450 new low emissions buses over the next three years, with the first 150 delivered by 2020. More flexible and simplified tickets, a recommendation of a two-year price freeze on multi-operator bus fares, as well as more affordable travel for people of all ages is planned. An action plan for Transport for Greater Manchester and other agencies to tackle congestion hotspots, speed up journeys and cut gridlock is to be formulated.

A single unified brand identity for all bus services, with individual operator buses clearly identifiable as part of a partnership, is planned. Due to be introduced is an enhanced integration of bus, tram and rail services, which is to be done alongside a joint bus network review. A fully co-ordinated, central approach to traffic management, customer contact and travel information is set to be introduced. Additionally, a better onboard customer experience is to be focused on, including extension of free wifi across the bus fleet.

Gary Nolan, Chief Executive of OneBus, said: “Buses are central to the future of Greater Manchester and this positive package of proposals can make a real difference to tackling the biggest challenges facing our communities: road congestion and air quality.

“Building on the significant investment already made by operators, there is a window of opportunity for everyone to work together to deliver a revolution in the region’s bus network that puts customers first and offers excellent value for both passengers and public investment.

“Franchising is being presented as a zero-cost guaranteed route to better buses services, but this is a myth. The major investments we are proposing can be delivered far quicker through a partnership approach and without the risk and extra cost under any alternative model.

“Only by bus operators, the Mayor and the region’s local authorities working together, can we give Greater Manchester, its economy and its communities the dynamic bus network to shape our world-class city region.”

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