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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

All On Board Better Buses for Greater Manchester

Thursday, 04 November 2021

Greater Manchester needs better public buses. As our city region has grown – from 2.5 million in 1992 to almost 3 million today – our infrastructure has not kept up at the rate we need to match our ambitions. For too many residents and workers, the public transport experience in Greater Manchester is one of fragmented providers, confusing and overpriced tickets, and unreliable service.

This public transport paralysis means that many residents, especially in less well-off areas, often find themselves cut off from the best jobs and services. But it also has a significant environment impact as well. A transport network unfit for purpose means that people are more likely to turn to their cars to get around instead. Not only does this lead to congestion on our roads – estimated to cost up to £1.3 billion a year – but the increased air pollution from nitrogen dioxide and other exhaust fumes is estimated to lead to up to 1,200 early deaths a year.

At the end of last month, the Leaders of the Greater Manchester local authorities, alongside the Mayor Andy Burnham, took our first steps to end this injustice by publishing our final Bus Services Improvement Plan. Once approved it will be submitted to national government as the blueprint for a modern, affordable and accessible bus network for our city region.

But what will that actually mean for commuters? At a service level, anybody who arrives at a stop on a major route in Greater Manchester should expect to be on a bus 10 minutes later. Congestion “hotspots” will be identified and eliminated, and investment in passenger facilities and mobility hubs such as the Ashton-under-Lyne Interchange will ensure that all commuters can wait for and transfer between buses in safety and comfort. For those who may not be completely sure where they’re going, live and up-to-date information will be provided both before and during the journey through improvements such as the installation of audio-visual announcements on buses themselves. Tickets will be significantly cheaper and simpler to understand, and will allow you to switch between any bus on the network as well as trams and other modes of transport such as Bee Network bikes. The buses themselves will be modernised and expanded with a focus on passenger comfort and zero emissions. All of this will be underpinned by the introduction of a “Customer Charter” setting out in detail the service and quality our public transport must deliver.

 

All that might sound ambitious, but everything I’ve just described already happens in London as well as a variety of other cities across Europe and the world. If we’re truly serious about fulfilling our ambitions of being a world-leading city we cannot, and will not, accept anything less.

We’ve already committed a significant amount of local funding, approximately £134.5 million until 2025-26, to make this vision of better buses in Greater Manchester a reality. This doesn’t include a number of other public transport initiatives we’ve undertaken, including £16 million per year to maintain the “Our Pass” free bus travel scheme for 16-18 year olds, and £30 million annually for existing subsidies for bus services and other local concessions. But we realise that if we want to make this happen, we need more money than we can provide ourselves. That’s why we’re asking the Chancellor to deliver on his Budget promise to provide a “London-style” transport settlement for Greater Manchester by releasing over £950 million of funding. If we’re successful, our intention is for the new and improved bus services to be in place in Tameside by 2025.

Improving our bus services is a single biggest thing we can do to turbo-charge economic growth and environmental sustainability in our city region. We know it can be done, we know how we’re going to do it, and we have the political will to see it through. If the government backs up our commitment with the necessary funding, I truly believe the sky’s the limit for what we can achieve in Greater Manchester.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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