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Greater Manchester one step closer to bus reform

Greater Manchester is taking steps to lead the way in obtaining bus reform. It will be the first city-region in the UK to use public consultation on the introduction of a bus franchising scheme.

Under the Bus Services Act 2017, powers are available to request permission to hold a major public consultation into Greater Manchester bus reform.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will be asked for the green light at a meeting on Monday 7 October, to then be launched on Monday 14 October.

Assessments for Greater Manchester busses have been carried out by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) on behalf of GMCA, where it was compared with other possible options, including new partnerships with the bus companies and taking no action on them so see the most effective.

This follows the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham’s announcement last week regarding a ‘London-style’ integrated public transport system, highlighted in ‘Our Network’.

The assessment proved to be the best way to meet Greater Manchester’s new objectives and future vision.

Covering all aspects, including simple fares and tickets, an improved customer experience and better value for money.

A franchising system, currently being used in London and other major cities around the world, means that all aspects of bus services would be under local control, something Andy Burnham has recently championed.

An independent auditor has reviewed the assessment, as legally required under the Act, and has confirmed that it is based on appropriate evidence which has been analysed effectively and that “due regard” to the supporting guidance has been given.

Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, Sir Richard Leese, said:

“Buses are the backbone of our public transport system, carrying people on 75% of journeys across the city-region, taking people to work, the shops and the hospital and playing a crucial role in helping people go about their daily lives.

“But in Greater Manchester and other UK regions bus use is falling. We need a new model for running our buses to arrest this decline, so that the bus network can play the same key role it does in supporting other major global cities.

“A decision to proceed to a major public consultation would be another key step towards reforming how the buses are run.”

The GMCA will also be asked to approve potential funding, should a decision be taken to introduce it.

The government has indicated that it will support Greater Manchester to “deliver a London-style bus system in the area” which could include revenue funding.

If government funding becomes available, this could offset any local contribution or increase to council tax.

If additional government funding is not provided, the majority of the funding would come from earn back funding, provided by central government as part of Greater Manchester’s Devolution Agreement.

Sir Leese added: “The funding model that the GMCA will be asked to approve would draw on a number of sources and limits the impact on households as the majority of funding doesn’t come from council tax. The assessment shows that franchising would underpin future economic growth, leading to improvements well beyond those to bus passengers.”


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