Results from bus franchising consultation due in March

Date published: 09 January 2020

The consultation on a proposed bus franchising scheme for Greater Manchester has now closed with more than 8,000 responses.

The consultation ran from Monday 14 October 2019 to Wednesday 8 January 2020 and gave people across Greater Manchester and beyond the chance to share their views on the proposals.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority said the results are now being analysed the results by independent market research agency Ipsos MORI.

GMCA will then publish a report on the consultation responses before the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, decides whether or not to implement the proposed franchising scheme.

That decision is expected to be announced in March 2020.

Currently in Greater Manchester, individual bus companies decide their own routes, frequencies, tickets and standards.

In areas they don’t run, the public sector pays to fill in the gaps in the market where it can.

In October, GMCA became the first city-region in the UK to launch a public consultation on a proposed bus franchising scheme.

This would mean that bus services would be under Greater Manchester’s control and GMCA would set the routes, frequencies, tickets and standards, while the bus operators would run the services.

The hope is this would allow buses to work better with the rest of public transport, in a system that will be known as Our Network which would be part of the city-region’s aim for a joined-up transport system.

Deputy Mayor Sir Richard Leese said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to understand the proposals and respond to the consultation. Throughout this consultation we have met and spoken to people who are passionate about their local bus services and who understand how vital they are for local communities.

“It will be their views that help shape the future of Greater Manchester’s bus network.

“We will make sure that we keep everyone informed on the progress of this process at every step of the way.”

Greater Manchester's bus operators have since officially responded to the Mayor’s public transport consultation with, what they say is, 'an improved partnership proposal that still meets his political objectives'.

Partnership Plus takes the council’s “Doing Buses Differently” franchise offer and proposes introducing 450 new 'green' buses to tackle Manchester’s air quality crisis, fund additional staff needed to deliver and administer the new system, identify congestion hotspots and jointly agree on interventions to keep traffic moving, situate bus stops in the most convenient places, establish new routes  and 'simplify' the structure of multi-operator tickets whilst still offering single-operator tickets as needed.

They have all offered to sign up to a Performance Regime and regular audits, which would enforce financial penalties if they failed to deliver.

Gary Nolan, Chief Executive of OneBus, which represents all bus operators in Greater Manchester, said: “Everyone agrees that the public deserve an improved bus system, and we have worked extremely hard to produce a co-ordinated plan that will provide the service and value that Greater Manchester deserves. We have been steadfast in our commitment to deliver improvements without the need for the burden on taxpayers, which we fear the council’s franchising proposal will require.

“If public authorities are willing to pool their resources and regional influence with ours so that the network is efficient and sustainable, we make no secret that we are willing to invest our own revenue in the infrastructure needed to introduce the changes we all want to see as quickly as possible. A jointly controlled network will bring about the best results more quickly than any other option, and with less cost to taxpayers across the region.”

During the consultation, GMCA held more than 70 public events and met with a range of groups across Greater Manchester including disabled charities, women and older people’s organisations and business associations.

More than 47,000 people visited the consultation website and more than 140 articles and reports about the consultation appeared in the media.

People can still find out more about the proposed bus franchising scheme at

Alice Richardson, Local Democracy Reporter

Additional reporting: Rochdale Online

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