The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has launched a consultation about the impact of Covid-19 on its proposals for how buses are run.
The consultation will run for eight weeks – until 11:59pm on Friday 29 January 2021 – and can be found at www.gmconsult.org.
This follows the consultation carried out between October 2019 and January 2020 on a proposed franchising scheme for the city-region’s buses. Over 8,500 responses were received.
Following the onset of the pandemic, GMCA asked TfGM to consider what impact Covid-19 may have on the bus market and the proposed franchising scheme before any final decision could be made.
Greater Manchester has an ambition for a truly integrated public transport system, Our Network, to make getting around the city-region easy, accessible and affordable.
Buses will be central to Our Network – they’re vital to Greater Manchester and have become even more essential during Covid-19.
75% of public transport journeys made in Greater Manchester before and during the pandemic are by bus and they continue to be a critical link to jobs and essential services for some of our poorer communities.
Since 1986 bus services in Greater Manchester have been deregulated. This means the buses are run by commercial bus companies who decide the routes, timetables, fares and standards. The bus companies receive the revenue from fares and retain the profits.
Covid-19 has caused a lot of uncertainty over how people will travel in future. So, TFGM has used four scenarios in a report which looks 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. So 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 by providing further funding or by 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
Despite the additional financial risks, the net benefits of franchising for Greater Manchester are still likely to be higher and more deliverable than other options, such as a partnership with bus operators and so will provide value for money.
Visit gmconsult.org to have your say by 11:59pm on Friday 29 January 2021.