I’ve made no secret of my support for the Mayor’s plans to bring our bus system back under public control. As one of the Mayor’s key pledges, this policy will instigate the biggest revolution in local transport in a generation.
When I’m down in London, I’m able to hop on a bus for less than £2, and make unlimited journeys within the hour, and do it all on my Oyster Card. Yet when I come back home to Greater Manchester, I’m faced with different routes run by different providers, and over 150 ticket types. It’s unacceptable, and frankly ludicrous.
Thankfully however, this will no longer be an issue by the end of 2024. Despite legal challenges from private bus providers, Andy Burnham is cracking on with his plan to move Greater Manchester to a franchised system. This will mean local leaders will be able to set timetables, fares and ticketing. Adult fares for a single journey will be capped at £2, and children’s fares will be capped at £1. Your ticket will function in the same way as the London ‘hopper’, meaning the same ticket can be used for unlimited journeys within 60 minutes. This will be rolled out from 2023, and from 2024 the whole of Greater Manchester will be covered by this service.
This new system will make a real difference to people in Tameside, who will be spending less money on a more efficient bus service. It’s a common-sense policy. Sadly, however the bus operator Rotala is still trying to challenge the policy in the courts, over small technicalities. But thankfully the Mayor and his team are focused on delivering this necessary change for the people of Greater Manchester, and still have a target of September 2023 for the initial roll out.
Having an affordable, accessible, and integrated transport system is key if we ever want to ‘level-up’ our regions outside London. For too long, the people of Greater Manchester have had to put up with a system that isn’t fit for purpose. For over 30 years bus networks outside of London have been left deregulated, leading to the inefficient system we can see today in Greater Manchester. Change is long overdue, and I can’t wait for my first journey on one of our new bright yellow buses.