Significant devolution deal announced for Manchester transport

Greater Manchester will get new responsibilities over transport as part of what is described as the city-region’s most significant devolution deal with government.

The new Trailblazer Deal includes more influence on regional rail services to deliver a London-style integrated public transport system – the Bee Network – by 2030. The Bee Network aims to integrate bus, Metrolink, rail, and cycle hire with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing. Progress is already being made through bus franchising with public control of the buses taking effect from September in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Bury and Salford.

Building on existing plans for transport integration between trams and buses through franchising, the Deal commits to activity to enable the delivery of full integration of local rail services into the Bee Network by 2030. This includes London-style touch-in/touch-out integrated fares and ticketing across bus, Metrolink and rail and Bee Network co-branding across the public transport network. This will be taken forward by a new Rail Partnership with Great British Railways, with the first pilots on integrated fares and ticketing agreed by the end of the year.

The deal commits the government and GMCA to identify the specific legal powers needed for TfGM to effectively tackle anti-social behaviour and fare evasion on the bus network. This may include GMCA having the power to introduce byelaws where necessary.

To be able to deliver the transport ambitions in the Deal, Greater Manchester needs to secure funding over the next two financial years in light of inflationary pressures on energy and other costs. TfGM says discussions on this are still ongoing with the government.

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