First to operate Manchester busway
First has won the contract to operate services on a new flagship bus priority route in the Manchester area. The route includes the region’s first guided busway, which is currently under construction and is to stretch 4.5miles between Leigh and Ellenbrook. The 14-mile route will link communities in Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley and Salford to Manchester city centre and through to the universities, Central Manchester Hospital site and businesses along Oxford Road. The operator has been selected by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to run the high frequency services, which will start later this year. First has committed to running a premium commercial service, with no direct public subsidy, at their normal network prices. All TfGM concessionary passes and permits will be valid for travel. It will be run using new, high quality double deck, low carbon emission vehicles that will be replaced every five years. It will also have onboard next stop audio/visual announcements, CCTV, free wi-fi, climate control and high quality seating.
When fully completed, four services per hour will run from Atherton and four from Leigh, meaning that there will be eight services per hour in each direction between Tyldesley and Oxford Road during the day, six days a week. A less frequent service will be operated on Sundays. Journey times are expected to improve between 5 and 10 minutes for short distance local journeys and up to around 30 minutes for longer distance journeys into Manchester. There will be around 30 pairs of bus stops along the busway route. There will also be three free to use park and ride sites to serve the busway providing over 400 spaces in Leigh, on Astley Street in Tyldesley, and on the A580 East Lancashire Road near to the M60/61 junction.
MD for First in Manchester, Teresa Broxton, said, ‘First has a great track record of delivering high quality, reliable services and we look forward to working in partnership with TfGM and local councils to provide innovative travel solutions for our new and existing customers.’