We reported recently that the plans proposed by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to franchise bus services had not been well received by bus companies (see Operators unhappy with franchising plans for Greater Manchester).

Now bus and coach passenger charity Bus Users has added its voice to the criticism arguing that the proposal neither asked about, nor focused on, the needs of passengers or building passenger numbers across the region.

Available at bususers.org/operators/resources, the consultation response contradicts the GMCA assertion that only a franchising scheme can provide multi-operator ticketing and also disagrees with the assertion that franchising would remove the profit from private operator.

The Bus Users’ response to the consultation goes on to say: “There is scant attention paid to the environmental/air quality implications of the plan. Without the kinds of initiatives planned by York and Bristol, or an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) or Congestion Charging aimed at removing or reducing private cars from the centre(s), substantial modal shift from cars to public transport will not be feasible in the short or medium term.”

The charity points out that, while the proposed franchised scheme should produce some limited benefits for passengers, these could have been much greater if meaningful consultation had been done at an earlier stage.

It suggests to the GMCA that the following improvements could be made to the plan:

  • a detailed passenger and potential passenger consultation to identify the specific needs of local people

  • ongoing involvement of passenger representatives

  • a detailed plan for how the congestion and air quality issues are to be addressed

  • a detailed plan for increasing public transport numbers and reducing private car use in urban centres across the Greater Manchester region.

Greater Manchester is the first city-region to consult on a proposed bus franchising scheme. Its original consultation on the scheme can be found at www.gmconsult.org/strategy-team/gmbusconsultation.

Last reviewed 7 February 2020