In the Queen’s Speech this year, the Government restated its intention to move forward with a Bill to give local authorities the power to introduce London-style bus franchising. After 30 years of deregulation, there is finally the prospect of Manchester holding the powers that London has had for so long.
Deregulation of the bus network has been a failure for Greater Manchester. An inefficient marketplace has produced an unbalanced network that means popular routes are flooded with different providers but many suburban areas go without any service at all.
An efficient bus network is vital for jobs and livelihoods. 80% of all public transport journeys in Greater Manchester are taken by bus, amounting to 220 million journeys per year. Research from Transport for Greater Manchester shows that these are mostly short but vital journeys that take elderly people to their local town centres, expectant mothers to antenatal clinics and students to their classes.
Analysts at thinktank IPPR North predict that a properly regulated bus system would lead to fares going down and the option of creating an Oyster-card equivalent in Manchester. Manchester City Council would be able to streamline bus timetables to make the schedules easier to understand and reduce congestion on our roads.
It would be the first step towards the flexible and interconnected transport system that Manchester so desperately needs. I’ll be watching carefully as the Government works out the details of the proposals, but in a Queen’s speech that failed to address the inequality and insecurity this country faces, this Bill is a promising development for Greater Manchester.
I highlighted the potential impact of the Buses Bill in my response to the Queen’s Speech, you can read the full speech here.
6 June 2016