Franchising to come to Manchester?

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has launched his ten-year plan for the city’s transport network. In it, the Mayor recommends franchising as its preferred option for the bus network. The assessment will be considered by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on Friday 28 June.

The GMCA will decide whether to proceed with the scheme and approve the assessment for independent audit. If this is approved, an independent auditor will be appointed, followed by a statutory public consultation on the assessment.

Greater Manchester is the first city-region seeking to make use of the new powers under the Bus Services Act 2017 and the first to test this legislation.

Gary Nolan, chief executive of OneBus, a partnership representing the majority of bus operators in Greater Manchester, said: “The Mayor’s vision was heavy on ambition and light on detail. Despite a two-year assessment on whether to consider franchising or partnership, today’s announcement still keeps the people of Greater Manchester in the dark when it comes to the cost. If the local authority truly wants to be ‘Doing Things Differently’, they can do better than replicate a London-style system that expects to operate under a £742m deficit by the end of this year, cutting routes and consuming government subsidies.

“Despite only £1m of funding from TfGM last year, compared to £500m for cycling and £72m for new trams, buses have led the way in transport innovation by introducing technologies such as contactless payments.

“We agree that Greater Manchester’s bus network can be improved and encourage the mayor to use his existing powers to cut congestion now, before it inflicts further damage on bus punctuality and air quality. Our partnership proposal can deliver a better network at no extra cost to the public purse.”


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