COMMUTERS will no longer be stranded in Manchester in the early hours after a successful campaign to save a popular night bus.
Bolton West MP Julie Hilling led residents’ protests after it was announced the 39 route between Manchester and Leigh via Atherton and Tyldesley was being axed in January.
The scrapping of the route was due to budget cuts forcing Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to remove all support for its subsidised night buses, but protestors argued withdrawing the service would make life very difficult for late shift workers and revellers visiting the city’s leisure attractions.
The drive to keep the buses on the road has now been successful, with operator First Manchester agreeing to step in and continue the route on a fully-commercial basis.
Ms Hilling said: “I am very pleased First Manchester has taken the decision to run the number 39 on a commercial basis and a big thank you to Coun Mark Aldred for all his work on the issue. The service is very popular and I don’t want residents of Atherton being stranded in Manchester because they can’t afford £35 for a taxi.
“I was delighted to receive a letter from TfGM confirming the service will stay in place. Many residents of all ages in my constituency use the service and it is seen by many as the only travel option for residents who work late in Manchester and those who are just simply enjoying their weekend.”
Ms Hilling says she hopes the move will ensure a successful night bus will continue running until the guided busway between Manchester and Leigh, which is expected to have late services, opens in September.
Coun Aldred, who represents Atherton ward on Wigan Council and is also deputy chair of TfGM’s committee, said: “While TfGM no longer has the funding available for this service and others like it, we are encouraging bus operators to step in where there is demand.”
The TfGM subsidies for night buses will run out on January 25, with the 39 route one of two late services in Greater Manchester which First Manchester will be running to a profit.
Ian Humphreys, head of commercial for First in Greater Manchester, said: “We recognise the challenges faced by TfGM in the reduction of their bus services budget and have worked together to take on the night buses.”