Manchester expands night services

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TfGM is to operate night buses on a trial basis on two routes. TfGM

A night transport pilot will see services run at least every hour, providing 24-hour connectivity for a large part of Greater Manchester, with night buses running on routes V1 and 36 which operate from Manchester to Leigh and Bolton respectively. The trial will launch later this year and run for a year, with a review planned to allow councillors to consider the performance and cost of the scheme, and whether the frequency can be increased.

Buses are planned to run at least hourly on both routes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and at the same capped fares as daytime services. As part of the pilot’s development over the coming months,
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) says it will work with the TravelSafe Partnership to consider the appropriate level of support at key interchanges and aboard buses, including in-person patrols.

The roll-out will be supported by TravelSafe Live Chat, which the travelling public will be able to access via the Bee Network app to discreetly report crime and antisocial behaviour to Greater Manchester Police call handlers.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is a 24-hour city and should have a public transport system to match, so I’m delighted that we’re introducing a night bus pilot in the next few months that will support workers – whether that’s in health and social care, bars and clubs, distribution centres or anywhere else – as well as those wanting to get home after a night out.

“We know how important it is that people feel safe when using public transport at any time of day, but especially at night. As we develop our plans for the pilot, we’ll be working closely with the TravelSafe Partnership, Greater Manchester Police and voluntary organisations to make sure the right level of support is available so people can travel at all times of day with confidence.

“This pilot gives us the chance to see how people use transport at night and take the first step towards an improved, around-the-clock transport service for the people of Greater Manchester.”

The pilot will focus primarily on supporting people working in Greater Manchester’s night time economy, TfGM says, in which up to a third of the region’s workforce is employed, and which includes the culture and leisure sectors, health and social care, manufacturing, and logistics.

Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord said: “Whilst Greater Manchester’s night time economy is performing better than its comparators, it is crucial that we don’t become complacent and rest on our laurels. Like the businesses and operators who make up the UK’s fifth biggest sector, we need to constantly innovate and look at ways to improve our late night offer.

“That is why me and my team have been working closely with Vernon Everitt, GM Transport Commissioner, and Transport for Greater Manchester, to develop a late night bus pilot. People living along the V1 and 36 routes who work or participate within the night time economy will have more money in their pocket and feel safer as they travel home, whilst those visiting our city-region will have more options to move around late at night.”

Sacha claimed that the pilot would not be possible without the Bee Network and ‘the Mayor’s decision to take local control of our buses’ and encouraged people living Bolton, Leigh, Salford and Manchester to take advantage of the services.

TfGM says the V1 and 36 were chosen given the limited existing night time transport in the north west of Greater Manchester, as well as their proximity to key night time economy employment sites such as hospitals and distribution centres, and that they also serve areas with high numbers of people less likely to own a car and more likely to use public transport, including students.