Greater Manchester Mayor recommends franchising as part of ‘integrated transport system’

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A trial of Our Pass, free bus travel for the city-region’s 16-to-18-year olds, also launches in July

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham has launched ‘Our Network,’ a 10-year plan to create an ‘integrated, modern and accessible’ public transport system.

As part of the announcement, he confirmed that an assessment into the future of the city-region’s bus market has now been completed and recommends franchising as its preferred option (as opposed to a partnership system).

The assessment will be considered by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) 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. Once the audit has been completed, the GMCA would then decide whether to proceed with 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.

Our Network is intended to be a London-style system, making it easy and convenient to change between different modes of transport with simple, affordable ticketing and a cap across all modes of transport – as in London.

Greater Manchester
The GMCA will decide whether to proceed with the scheme and approve the assessment for independent audit on Friday. RICHARD SHARMAN

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “We’ve reached a key milestone with the completion of the assessment into the future of Greater Manchester’s bus market, which recommends franchising as its preferred option and to be considered further by the GMCA.

“We’re the first city-region seeking to make use of the new powers under the Bus Services Act and the first to test this legislation – so are leading the way nationally in this regard.

“Other vital parts of our integrated transport network will include more trams, a new bike hire scheme, free bus travel for 16-to-18-year olds, contactless payment on Metrolink, expanded Park and Ride, pathfinder tram-train projects and setting out our ambition for GM Rail.

“To achieve our full transport ambition, Greater Manchester needs the infrastructure and the necessary political powers. For too long, central government has over promised and under delivered when it comes to the North.

“If the next government is serious about closing the North-South divide, a critical step forward will be empowering us with the necessary powers and funding to improve our transport.

“I will be making this case strongly in the next Spending Review on behalf of the people and businesses of Greater Manchester.”

Responding to the announcement, CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler told CBW: “CPT shares Andy Burnham’s vision for a Manchester with better bus services serving more people and cutting congestion and air pollution.

“The way to get there though is by working in partnership with bus operators rather than by asking Manchester’s council taxpayers to take on the financial risks of running services.

“Where bus operators and local authorities work together in partnership, real benefits for passengers are being achieved up and down the country.

“The Mayor only needs to look down the East Lancs Road to see the 16% increase in passenger numbers which has been achieved in just four years by partnership working in Liverpool.

“Greater Manchester’s bus operators have already put forward a ground-breaking £100m partnership blueprint; accepting this will enable quicker, more sustainable progress towards the world class bus service Manchester deserves.”

 

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