Greater Manchester’s bus operators have unveiled a £100m partnership ‘blueprint,’ intended to revolutionise the region’s bus network.
The plans, published by Manchester bus consortium OneBus, promise to ease congestion, tackle air quality issues, reduce costs and improve connectivity for local communities.
The blueprint includes the following measures:
- 450 new low-emission buses over the next three years to boost the region’s air quality, with the first 150 delivered by 2020;
- More flexible and simplified tickets, recommendation of two-year price freeze on multi-operator bus fares, and more affordable travel for people of all ages;
- An action plan for Transport for Greater Manchester and other agencies to tackle congestion hotspots, speed up journeys and cut gridlock;
- A single unified brand identity for all bus services, with individual operator buses clearly identifiable as part of a partnership;
- Improved integration of bus, tram and rail services;
- Joint bus network review to maximise connectivity for passengers, including the evaluation of the potential for off-peak, limited stop, night time or 24 hour services;
- Better on-board customer experience, including extension of free WiFi across the bus fleet; and
- A fully coordinated, central approach to traffic management, customer contact and travel information.
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.”
Gary also warned of the pitfalls of franchising bus services, something which the Mayor and Greater Manchester Combined Authority are currently considering: “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,” he concluded.