83% support proposals as bus operators offer partnership-based alternatives


The vast majority of respondents to a consultation on how buses are run in Greater Manchester support proposals for the combined authority’s plans for a franchising scheme.

In total 8,516 people and organisations took part in the public consultation on the proposed franchising scheme that ran between October 2019 to January 2020.

TfGM and independent research agency Ipsos MORI have reviewed, analysed and summarised all responses to the consultation in two reports. Ipsos MORI have also analysed qualitative research with public transport users, non-users, residents and businesses.

Of the 5,905 respondents who answered the question on whether they supported or opposed the proposed bus franchising scheme, 83% said they supported the proposed scheme. 8% of respondents said they opposed the proposed scheme, with the remaining respondents neither supporting or opposing the proposed scheme.

Some of the most common reasons for support included that it would be an improvement on the current system of deregulated buses; that it would help deliver an integrated and coordinated public transport network and that it would provide better value for money. Those opposed were concerned about the affordability of the proposed scheme or did not believe the proposed scheme would work.

The consultation also asked what respondents thought of the strategic, economic, financial and managerial cases for the proposed franchising scheme and whether they would suggest any changes.

Alternative partnership proposals were put forward by some bus operators and their representatives – Stagecoach submitted a partnership proposal for south Manchester; OneBus submitted a Partnership Plus proposal for the whole of Greater Manchester and First put forward a proposal to run a pilot partnership in Oldham.

The results of the consultation were initially due to be published and considered by the combined authority in the spring. However, it says the coronavirus pandemic has had a widespread impact on the bus market, including changes to service patterns, financial and economic impact, levels of patronage and attitudes to travelling by public transport.

As a result, transport for Greater Manchester will now undertake further work to assess the impact of the pandemic on the bus market. A report will be submitted to the combined authority later in the year that will consider these impacts and the next steps in the bus reform process.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said the local bus market needed to change.

“Many have told us about their frustration at a fractured system of different operators, different tickets, different prices and disjointed timetables,” he said. “They understand how a more integrated system is beneficial not only to them but for the city-region as a whole.

“They want to see a more integrated and coordinated public transport system that delivers better value for money. While we now need to consider the impact of the health pandemic on our services, this consultation process has made clear what it is people want to see.”

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