Plans for an integrated transport system with reregulated buses have been approved by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, unveiled the plans as part of his vision for an integrated public transport system for the region before the idea was approved by the Combined Authority.
“Our current public transport system is fragmented and unreliable, with often confusing ticketing and passenger information,” he explained.
“By allowing people to easily and quickly move around our city-region we can unlock growth, cut congestion and air pollution and enable our residents to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.”
Burnham’s announcement follows months of campaigning by local residents for a regulated bus system.
Pascale Robinson of Better Buses for Greater Manchester said: “People care a lot about their buses. It makes a huge difference to their daily lives. Buses have been neglected for far too long.”
Under a regulated system, local authorities design the bus network according to passenger need, deciding fares, routes and the frequency of buses. Bus companies are then awarded contracts to run these services, but operate under unified branding.
London already uses such a system, but services in the rest of the country were deregulated in the 1980s.
Over 20 companies currently offer services in Greater Manchester, but most tickets are not transferable, which can be confusing and restricting for passengers.
Robinson added: “I think that people know it doesn’t work at the moment. People can see it’s unreliable, and if you have to travel to London you notice how efficient their buses are and we deserve the same here.”
There are also campaigns for local regulation of bus services in other cities such as Aberdeen, Liverpool and Bristol, and if Greater Manchester is able to take control of its buses then other places may follow.
Get Glasgow Moving’s Rebecca Menzies said: “We believe the proposed plans for regulation of the buses in Manchester is an important step in the right direction for the country as whole.
“It’s shown that publicly-owned and integrated public transport is possible when there is the political will behind it!
“For too long, buses across the country have been run for the profits of private companies when they should serve the needs of the people in local communities.”
The power to regulate bus services is devolved to directly elected mayors, and the mayor-less North East Combined Authority failed in its attempt to take control of bus services three years ago.
The Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group continues to push for regulation in the region, however.
Richard Rook, the general secretary, said: “We have seen what the Mayor of Greater Manchester wants to do and support him. We want the North East Combined Authority to do likewise.”
Now that the plans have been approved by all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester they will be assessed by an independent auditor, before moving on to a public consultation.
Research by Better Buses for Greater Manchester found that 76% of people in the region already support reregulation of their buses.
“We’re almost certain that we know what they’re going to say, that they want affordable and accountable regular buses,” Robinson continued.
“However we need to make sure that is recorded and that Andy Burnham listens to us.”
Robinson also wants to help make the consultation engaging and exciting, to ensure as many people as possible share their views.
Ahead of the consultation, which is likely to take place online and in person, the Better Buses group is continuing to raise awareness across Greater Manchester.
As well as their online petition, which has over 10,000 signatures, the campaigners calling on people who want to get more directly involved to email Robinson at [email protected]