Last reviewed 30 July 2019

In one of his first major speeches since becoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson told an audience in Manchester that he saw improved bus services as one of the keys to unlocking the potential of the local economy.

“I will begin as a matter of urgency the transformation of local bus services,” he promised, “starting here today in Manchester.”

Pointing out that bus passenger journeys have risen by 97% in 25 years in the capital, Mr Johnson said that he would work with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, on his plans to deliver a London-style bus system in the area under powers available in the Bus Services Act.

“I want higher frequency, low-emission or zero-emission buses, more bus priority corridors, a network that’s easier to understand and use,” he explained. “I want local partnerships between the private sector, which operates the buses, and a public body, which coordinates them.”

In metropolitan areas outside of London — where they do not have these features in place — bus journeys have fallen by 34% over the same 25-year period.

The Prime Minister suggested that the first results of his new plan would be visible, in Greater Manchester, within a few months, and the measures could then be rolled out to other parts of the country where local leaders want to take up the challenge.

“Good bus connections, good transport connectivity, is vital to so many of the towns that feel left behind,” Mr Johnson went on. “So we are going to put proper money into the places that need it.”

He has promised a £3.6 billion Towns Fund supporting an initial 100 towns so that they will get the improved transport and improved broadband connectivity that they need.