More investment in GM's bee network is the answer to improving the city region's air quality. Credit: via TfGM

Greater Manchester gets green light to franchise buses

It’s all systems go for the Bee Network, which will provide a London-style public transport system to the city region, after a judicial review found in favour of the scheme.

Bus firms Stagecoach and Rotala had put the brakes on the plan, sparking the judicial review by saying that the franchise system was unlawful. Under a franchise system, the combined authority will control the fares, timetables and routes of the region’s buses, trains and trams.

Justice Julian Knowles, however, disagreed with the companies in a decision shared on Wednesday.

“This is truly fantastic news for everyone outside London who wishes to see a return to a bus service that puts people ahead of profit,” said Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Burnham said the combined authority had been confident the judicial review would end in their favour, adding that the public had issued a strong mandate for the franchise system.

“I now ask [Stagecoach and Rotala] to accept the clear ruling and allow us to crack on and give the people of Greater Manchester what they want – an integrated, accessible and affordable ‘London-style’ transport system joining together buses, trams, cycling and walking; the Bee Network,” Burnham said.

He said that more details on how franchising would be implemented would be released on Monday.

Additional funding will be necessary for the Bee Network and Burnham asked the government to partner with the authority on the program and provide longer-term funding.

“We know that this result is important not just for Greater Manchester, but for other city-regions too; such as Liverpool City Region and South Yorkshire who have both announced that they are taking steps to introduce a franchised bus network,” Burnham said.

“We hope that this judgement today will pave the way for them to progress with their ambitions to bring buses under public control. This ruling is a green light for the North to retake control of its bus and public transport system.

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Great news.

By Monty

Excellent news for Manchester and another victory for Burnham

By Anonymous

And this is a good thing.

By Roger

Great news and a great victory for Burnham.

By Elephant

Manchester breaking boundaries

By Anonymous

Hopefully there will be some benefits from better integration, but the warning signals are there; anything other than a bus service run for a profit means a bus service run for a loss.

Restoring loss-making routes on the buses to improve local connectivity sounds good, but…who’s paying ?

Given the scale of the bus services across the city region – and those that only make sense if they cross the borders into Cheshire and Lancashire – be prepared for this big project to become a huge loss-maker with Andy Burnham and the ten Councils then asking it us to pay for those losses in other ways, or getting out the begging bowl to the Government.

Local politicians in charge of an integrated local transport system is an extremely bold and courageous plan as Sir Humphrey would say – you have been warned.

By AltPoV

@altpov It’s a price worth paying I think, though you raise a good point. Think it’s fairly ridiculous that there are different tickets for different operators on the same route. Also the integrated ticketing will make PT travel much more attractive and easier to do

By Disgruntled Goat

Hopefully GM can get Overground style rail services too.

By Vic

@altpov some good points raised although I think that the current system
might be “profitable” on paper but its a loss in terms of impact it has on
air pollution, mobility, connectivity, sustainability etc as it doesn’t encourage modal shift away
from driving therefore the status quo isn’t sustainable IMO. We can afford to subsidise public transport given that drivers are heavily subsidised by taxpayers, lets subsidise more public transport and take subsidies away from private car ownership as this is better for everyone.

By Induced demand

Time for the Government to come up with the funding for the BSIPs and to make this hard fought aim a reality for GM.

By Anonymous

With the skyrocketing cost of motoring now,it’s essential we control the fares of buses and trains and trams otherwise our shopping and office centres will become places people can not afford to work in.We cannot afford any longer for people to be paying ticket prices linked to inflation without decimation of local economy.

By Bob Jones

He’s destroyed the buses now he’s the saviour funny. Sort the connection out so we are not in traffic all the time and illegal parking.

By Disgruntled bus driver

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