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7th March 2019

Better Buses Action Week to support regulation of Manchester’s buses

The campaign was aimed at lobbying the Mayor for greater activity on bus reform
Better Buses Action Week to support regulation of Manchester’s buses
Photo: David Ingham @ Wikimedia Commons

Better Buses Action Week took place from the 4th-11th March in an attempt to sway Greater Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham, to re-regulate Manchester’s buses.

Burnham must decide between regulation of the bus network or entering into a partnership.

The action week was started by the campaign group Better Buses for Greater Manchester who want Greater Manchester bus services to be regulated.

The group found that 76% of people polled want re-regulation of buses in Greater Manchester.

Meetings with local leaders on buses and bus stops across Manchester took place over the action week to help convince Burnham to re-regulate the buses.

Re-regulation would allow control over bus fares, bus routes, and the ability to use a convenient travel card similar to the oyster card used in London.

Importantly, regulation would allow cross-subsidisation where money taken from busy bus routes can be used to pay for routes which are more socially necessary.

Local authorities currently have no control over the fares or routes of 80% of buses in Greater Manchester.

Despite this, 40% of the bus revenue comes from public money.

Greater Manchester buses were de-regulated in the 1980’s and by 1996, buses in the North of Manchester were sold to Stagecoach and buses in the South were sold to First Bus.

Bus usage since the 80’s has declined by 40% due to restricted routes and unreliability.

The call for re-regulation is strongly supported by the MP for Ashton, Angela Rayner: “I’ve seen how the withdrawal of vital bus services in my constituency – often without proper consultation – has affected passengers.

“I understand that there are times when difficult decisions have to be made and I know that some services become financially unviable. But it is vital that all options are explored before key services are cut. Anything less is unacceptable.”

Sir Richard Charles Leese, who has been leader of Manchester City Council since 1996, also agrees with the calls for re-regulation: “Manchester Labour is determined to make public transport serve the public by extending democratic control over bus services with straightforward smart ticketing covering bus, train, and tram.

“This fully completely aligns with the aims of the Better Buses campaign and we fully support the Better Buses Action Week.”

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