Our plan will create and save vital bus routes by allowing communities to take back control of bus services through franchising or public ownership. 

  • Louise Haigh visits Greater Manchester on her first official visit, with a pledge to support local leaders to deliver better buses  
  • under the government’s plan local transport authorities across the country will be empowered to take back control of buses 
  • the Transport Secretary will see first-hand how Greater Manchester’s Bee Network has boosted reliability and passenger numbers

Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh, will visit Greater Manchester today (11 July 2024) to begin the government’s bus revolution, as she pledges to support every community to take back control of buses through franchising or public ownership. 

She will meet with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to discuss how the area’s Bee Network can be replicated across the country to deliver better services, grow passenger numbers and drive opportunity to under-served regions.

The Transport Secretary will pledge to create and save vital bus routes up and down the country, calling time on the failed system of deregulation that has seen service levels plummet. The plans will also bring an end to the postcode lottery of bus services by providing safeguards over local networks across the country.

Launched in September 2023 as the first bus franchise in England outside London, the integrated Bee Network has delivered for local people by growing passenger numbers and improving the reliability of local bus services. This has already seen passenger numbers grow by 5% in the first area to be franchised, with revenue following suit.

The Transport Secretary will see first-hand how the successes of the Bee Network can be replicated across the country, improving services and handing power back to local people.  

The Transport Secretary will also hear directly the challenges faced by Greater Manchester during its franchising journey.  

Greater Manchester endured a 6-year slog to deliver local control of bus services due to unnecessary barriers. The government’s plan will remove these barriers so better buses can be delivered faster.

Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh, said: 

Buses are the lifeblood of communities, but the system is broken.  

Too often, passengers are left waiting hours for buses that don’t turn up – and some have been cut off altogether. 

Change starts now. This new government will give local leaders the tools they need to deliver better buses up and down the country.

Our plan will create and save vital bus routes by giving every community the power to take back control of their bus services through franchising or public ownership. 

We are already seeing how the Bee Network is delivering for people across Greater Manchester – we will ensure every community can enjoy the same benefits.

The Bee Network is also boosting Manchester’s Metrolink. In May, it recorded its busiest month in its 32-year history with 4.1 million passengers using the iconic yellow trams, higher than the previous record of 4 million set before the pandemic in 2019.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said:

Properly integrated public transport is the key to unlocking growth and opportunity across our city-region, improving the lives of our residents, supporting businesses and delivering greater value for money.

The numbers speak for themselves – our Bee Network has more passengers than ever before and is providing a better service for residents.

Greater Manchester has shown that our pioneering approach works and we look forward to working with the government to put power back into the hands of local communities.

The bus plan is part of the new government’s ambition to develop a long-term, national strategy for transport. This will ensure infrastructure can be delivered efficiently and on time while allowing local people to take back control of their buses, trams and trains.

Graham Vidler, CEO of the Confederation of Passenger Transport said:

The industry stands fully behind the objectives of growing the nation’s vital bus network and improving passengers’ experiences.

We look forward to working hand in hand with the government to deliver change which benefits passengers across the whole country and drives swifter progress towards the UK’s climate targets.

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Published 11 July 2024