Greater Manchester’s Onebus consortium of bus operators has offered a blueprint for improving bus services – without the need for re-regulation

The blueprint pledges 450 new buses for Greater Manchester


Greater Manchester’s bus operators this week launched a £100m partnership blueprint to revolutionise the bus network and deliver on the region’s ambitions.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, is keen to use new franchising powers in the Bus Services Act 2017 to take back control of the region’s buses.

However, the OneBus group of private operators claim that its blueprint (see panel) can deliver better connectivity for local communities, ease the cost of travel and tackle the region’s growing congestion and air pollution crisis – without requiring taxpayers to take on extra risk.

Franchising is being presented as a zero cost guaranteed route to better buses services, but this is a myth

“Franchising is being presented as a zero cost guaranteed route to better buses services, but this is a myth,” said Gary Nolan, chief executive of OneBus. “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.”

The Onebus blueprint:

  • 450 new low emission buses over the next three years;
  • More flexible and simplified tickets, recommendation of two-year price freeze on multi-operator bus fares, and more affordable travel for all ages;
  • An action plan for TfGM and others to tackle congestion hotspots;
  • A single unified brand identity for all bus services;
  • Improved integration of bus, tram and rail services;
  • Joint bus network review to maximise connectivity, including evaluation of the potential for off-peak, limited stop, night time or 24-hour services;
  • A fully co-ordinated, central approach to traffic management, customer contact and travel information.

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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