Greater Manchester to complete Bee Network bus services franchising by January 2025

Posted: 12 April 2024 | | No comments yet

GMCA has awarded contracts to operate the final phase of Bee Network bus services, ensuring all buses across Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Manchester and Salford will be franchised and under local control by January 2025.

Greater Manchester to complete Bee Network bus services franchising by January 2025

Credit: Transport for Greater Manchester

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has announced the awarding of contracts to operate the final phase of Bee Network bus services, bringing the entire Greater Manchester bus network under local control starting 5 January 2025. This move marks a significant milestone in the region’s transportation strategy, ensuring all buses will be franchised and accountable to local authorities.

Currently, approximately 50% of services in certain areas are franchised under the Bee Network, but with this final phase, nine franchises – comprising five large and four small – will cover 248 different services across south Greater Manchester, including Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and remaining parts of Manchester and Salford.

Metroline, a subsidiary of global mobility provider ComfortDelGro, has secured contracts for four of the five large franchises, while Stagecoach will operate the fifth large franchise. Additionally, Diamond Bus and Go North West will manage three and one of the small franchises, respectively. All operators will adhere to Bee Network specifications and standards.

The franchise selection process prioritised social value plans linked to Greater Manchester’s Good Employment Charter, ensuring community benefits beyond mere transportation.

Next phase of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network begins operation

Passengers in the southern part of Greater Manchester can expect more accountable and customer-focused services, with features such as passenger-rated journeys, performance-based targets and quality improvements. This change aligns with the vision to enhance connectivity and service standards across the network.

Eamonn Boylan, Chief Executive of GMCA and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), said: “Awarding the last round of franchised contracts is a major milestone towards delivering the Bee Network. That ambition is central to our devolution journey. It’s exciting to think that in around nine months’ time all bus services across the whole of Greater Manchester will be under local control and accountable to the people they serve.”

The final phase will introduce 120 new fully accessible electric buses, setting the stage for sustainable and modern public transport solutions in the region.

Reflecting on the progress of previous phases, where additional buses and improved punctuality have been observed, officials are optimistic about the positive impact of full franchising. Performance data from phase one indicates improved punctuality compared to non-franchised services, setting a precedent for enhanced service quality across Greater Manchester.