Andy Burnham to cap Greater Manchester bus fares at £2 a journey

Bus fares in Greater Manchester will cost no more than £2 a journey after Andy Burnham won a fight with the private bus companies, enabling him to “put people before profit”.

At least 30 bus operators compete for business in Greater Manchester, with single fares often costing £4 or more currently.

Burnham, who won a second term as the region’s mayor last year, has promised to deliver a low-carbon, “London-style”, fully-integrated public transport system across bus, tram, train and bike, called the Bee Network.

“The era of people paying £4 or more for a single journey is coming to an end,” said Burnham at the launch of the Greater Manchester 2021-31 “good lives for all” strategy. Children’s single fares would be capped at £1, he added.

Greater Manchester is the first city region outside London to have brought buses back into public control in more than 30 years. Burnham’s colleagues Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire and Steve Rotheram in the Liverpool city region are hoping to follow suit.

Wigan and Bolton will be the first of Greater Manchester’s boroughs to have Bee Network-branded buses from autumn 2023, with all 10 districts joining the network by the end of 2024.

Burnham set out the new franchising timeline after bus companies failed in a judicial review to stop him bringing buses back under public control. “We will make travelling by public transport more appealing, easier and, significantly, put people before profits,” he said.

The plans are supported by a £1.2bn five-year investment programme, with more than £430m to improve bus services across the city region.

Burnham has hired the former managing director of Transport for London (TfL), Vernon Everitt, as his new transport commissioner. Dame Sarah Storey, Britain’s most successful paralympian, takes over from former Olympian Chris Boardman as Greater Manchester’s active travel commissioner. She has done the same job for the Sheffield city region for the past few years, and Boardman is now running Active Travel England.

Storey, who went to school in Marple in Stockport and trained at the Manchester velodrome, said she was delighted to “come home”.

“It’s not just about transport. It’s also about health. I live and breathe the benefits of walking and cycling every day so I will be making that case to government,” said Storey. “If you want to invest in the north, if you want to level up the north, you have to invest in people’s health and wellbeing.”

She wants people to walk or cycle the first mile to the bus, tram or train stop “or even their whole journey if they are training for something crazy like me”.


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