Wigan to figure first in Burnham's latest plans for a London-style public transport system for Greater Manchester
Andy Burnham is expected to set out on Monday March 14 a revised timetable for the introduction of bus franchising, which will see regulated buses first introduced in Wigan and Bolton as well as parts of Salford and west Manchester from autumn 2023 with other areas following the next year.
It comes after a legal challenge brought by bus operators against the city-region’s bus franchising plans was dismissed and signifies a key next step towards the delivery of the Bee Network vision, with the Mayor also set to announce that Greater Manchester is moving to the next important stage of franchising bus services.
Invitations to negotiate will be issued shortly to prospective providers of bus services in Bolton and Wigan, as well as in parts of Salford and west Manchester.
Levels of interest are said to have been extremely strong, bringing a range of organisations from local SMEs through to large bus operators with operational experience throughout the UK, including London, and in some cases internationally.
Mr Burnham, said: “The court ruling means we now have the green light to deliver on our plans to deliver a London-style public transport system.
“We will make travelling by public transport more appealing, easier and, significantly, put our people before profits.
“Government has signalled its intention to support our ambitions many times over and we now need them to work in partnership with us, to help us turn our shared vision into a reality.”
Transformed bus services is a key pillar of the Bee Network vision, which aims to provide real public transport and active travel choices for all; promote sustainable travel behavioural change through integrated city-region planning; support the electrification of vehicles and public transport fleets; promotes levelling up through the provision of sustainable transport connectivity to key growth locations and the provision of affordable public transport options for all our communities.
Greater Manchester will have a new Transport Commissioner, with former Transport for London (TfL) Managing Director of Customers, Communication and Technology, Vernon Everitt, set to take a leading role in the delivery of the Bee Network.
Mr Everitt said: “It is a privilege to be given the responsibility to help write the next chapter of Greater Manchester’s ambitious and truly transformational transport story. The Bee Network vision sets out a compelling plan for better transport and I will bring all my experience to the table to ensure we deliver it.
“Our integrated transport network will unlock access to opportunity and public services, and drive reduced carbon emissions and improved wellbeing, benefitting everyone who lives, works or visits here. I look forward to working with the mayor, councils, transport operators and people across Greater Manchester to deliver a world class public transport system.”
The Greater Manchester Independent Prosperity Review found that parts of the city region with lower productivity, pay and living standards need infrastructure that supports both access to jobs in the centre of the city-region and improved local job opportunities and Mr Burnham said that improving public transport connectivity into and between Greater Manchester’s major centres and other growth locations was a key part of the Bee Network vision.