Bus operators sought for Greater Manchester franchise network

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Buses in ManchesterImage source, David Dixon/Geograph
Image caption,
Mayor Andy Burnham has a vision for a seamless transport system

Greater Manchester has taken the next step towards taking buses back under public control by seeking operators to run services in Bolton and Wigan.

The region's buses will be run in a London-style system where operators bid to run services on a franchise basis.

It is a key part of the Bee Network, which will connect buses, trams and bikes, scheduled to be running by 2024.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the bus shake-up would be "game changing".

He said: "That is why I am so keen to get the next stage of this procurement process under way and why I have asked TfGM (Transport for Greater Manchester) to work with the government to explore options to accelerate the delivery of franchising across the city region to 2024."

'Accessible and affordable'

Mr Burnham said the people of Greater Manchester "deserve better bus services" and he was looking forward to "hearing from partners in the bus industry who share our vision of delivering the joined-up transport network we need."

The Bee Network aims to deliver seamless end-to-end  journeys, connecting  buses, trams and hire bikes in order to make public transport more accessible and affordable, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The first of three phases of the Bee Network begins in summer 2023 in Bolton and Wigan.

A single ticket will cover all modes of transport and there will be a "one-stop shop"' for travel information.

Mr Burnham said passenger benefits from taking buses back under public control were "substantial".

Once franchising is in place TfGM and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will be responsible for the design of the bus network and will specify the frequency of bus services.

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