Don’t miss the bus consultation! – Final chance to have your say on the future of your buses
People and organisations across Greater Manchester and beyond have just a few days left to have their say in a consultation on the future of the city-region's buses, before the deadline of midnight on Friday 29 January.
Thousands of people have already engaged with the consultation, which is being carried out by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to gather views on the impact of Covid-19 on its proposals for the future of the city-region's buses. However, there’s still time for more to get involved by having their say at www.gmconsult.org ; emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to FREEPOST GMBUSCONSULTATION.
Three in four public transport journeys made in Greater Manchester before and during the Covid-19 pandemic are by bus and they continue to be a critical link to jobs and essential services; especially for some of Greater Manchester’s poorest and most vulnerable communities and those without a car.
Currently in Greater Manchester buses are run by commercial bus companies who decide the routes, timetables, tickets and standards. There is no coordination and limited oversight. In areas they don’t run services, the public sector pays to fill in the gaps in the market, where it can.
Between October 2019 and January 2020, GMCA held a consultation on a proposed franchising scheme for the city-region’s buses. Under franchising, bus services would be brought under local control. GMCA would coordinate and invest in the bus network based on the services passengers need. The bus operators would be contracted by GMCA to run the services.
Over 8,500 individuals and organisations gave their views in the previous consultation, with four out of five respondents, who answered the relevant question, supporting the proposed franchising scheme.
In June 2020, GMCA received the results of the consultation but decided, before a final decision could be made that the impact of Covid-19 on the bus market and the proposed franchising scheme should be considered.
Sir Richard Leese, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: “There is just a week left for people and organisations to have their say on our proposals for the future of your buses in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our ambition for Greater Manchester is a world-class integrated public transport network, where your journey is easy, accessible and affordable. Buses will be at the heart of this and that’s why last year we consulted on a proposed bus franchising scheme to bring buses under local control and over 8,500 of you responded, with four out of five people supporting the scheme. We are now consulting on Covid-19’s impact on these proposals.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a regular bus user or not, young or old, this is an issue that affects all of us. So I urge everyone – from Rochdale and Bolton to Stockport, Wigan to Tameside – to take part and ensure their voices are heard.”
Covid-19 has caused a lot of uncertainty over how people will travel in future. So, Transport for Greater Manchester used four scenarios in a report which looked at potential future travel demand in Greater Manchester and what it could mean for GMCA’s proposals to change how buses are run.
Under all scenarios, franchising is still the best option to achieve Greater Manchester’s long-term ambition for a fully integrated public transport system and GMCA still has funding available to pay for the transition to franchising.
Under franchising, GMCA would be responsible for the bus network and that means it would have more of the financial responsibility and the risks. Depending on the impacts of Covid-19, GMCA might have to make difficult choices about the bus network in the future to manage these financial risks - such as providing further funding or making reductions to the network.
But even under the other options available – such as entering into a partnership with bus operators or making no change to the bus market – there would still be difficult choices as GMCA would need to pay to fill more of the gaps in the commercial bus network. But GMCA would have to do this with no overall coordination and none of the other benefits of franchising.
GMCA is undertaking this further consultation on the proposed franchising scheme in the light of the findings of this report.
Following the consultation the responses will be independently analysed and reported to GMCA, who will consider the responses alongside the outcome of the previous consultation.
The outcome of both consultations will then be considered as part of the final decision by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, on whether to implement the proposed franchising scheme.
Find out more at www.gmconsult.org or call 0161 244 1100. Hard copies of the consultation document are available on request.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority Press Office
0161 608 4092