Fewer Wigan buses left on time

Wigan bus station
Wigan bus station

Bus service punctuality for subsidised services across Wigan and Leigh has deteriorated year-on-year, according to latest figures.

But operators covering the borough are still meeting minimum standards, Transport for Greater Manchester’s bus network sub-committee has been told.

Transport chiefs say 90.2 per cent of buses set out on time in 2016-17, which is 0.78 per cent down on 2015-16.

Steve Gilholme, TfGM’s head of bus, said in a report: “Subsidised service reliability and punctuality have declined between 2016/17 and 2015/16.

“However (they) continue to perform above desired minimum standards and also higher than network wide performance levels, which includes the performance of the commercial bus network.”

Bus usage for the subsidised network, which often includes evening and weekend services not usually favoured by the larger operators, has continued to grow during the course of the year, with an estimated 20.5 million people boarding services in Greater Manchester.

Smaller operators have mainly benefitted, with their market share up by 25 per cent, when compared to slight losses for major players like Stagecoach and Arriva.

For general non-subsidised services, the punctuality in Wigan borough has declined slightly, with 91.1 per cent setting off on time. This is still above the 90 per cent performance threshold though, councillors have heard,

Meanwhile regional transport bosses are considering, when they meet in Manchester tomorrow, limiting the number of hours Wigan and Leigh bus stations will be staffed on bank holidays.

Currently the travel shops at Wigan and Leigh are open during the week and from 8.30am to 4pm on Saturdays, with a short break for lunch.

In order to prevent lone working, a recruitment drive is underway to provide extra bus station staff, so there would be at least two workers covering shifts at any one time.

But to meet budgetary requirements, the TfGM sub-committee has heard, this would result in bank holiday and Sunday hours having to be cut to 10am to 5pm.

The facilities at neither Wigan nor Leigh now open on Sundays, after a bus station review was conducted in 2013.

Mr Gilholme added: “Although extremely rare, incidents of anti-social behaviour do occur on bus stations and there have been a small number of incidents where bus station operational staff have been on duty alone and are vulnerable to physical and verbal assault.”