The £1.50 magic bus fares may no longer be guaranteed, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham announced, after the government provided only half the money Manchester had requested from it ‘bus service improvement plans’ pot.
Manchester is set to become the second city after London to have a council controlled transport system.
However, as the central government is providing just £94.8 million of the £218 million requested, the Magic Bus, £1.10 cheaper than standard Stage Coach bus prices won’t be able to continue.
A second year Biosciences student said, “As an international student and as a woman, the safest and ideal option of transport personally feels like public transport especially buses. I believe it is important for buses should be affordable and removing the £1.50 magic bus would reduce accessibility of buses for many people.”
The Magic Bus was introduced to Manchester in 2006. Since then it has been widely used. It runs through student areas and has been used by many students to go from the Fallowfield Campus to University or the City Centre, for a cheap fair price.
A second year history student said, “I used the bus regularly to come to Uni from the Fallowfield campus last year. I remember waiting for those magic buses. If they do not continue, I think would affect the students a lot!” Meanwhile other students have complained about how if buses can’t be put down to £1.50 then the frequency of the buses will also reduce.
Removing this fare could affect the student body and the larger public. Hence, councillors from all 10 greater Manchester councils are still asking the government for the full amount of funding, under the campaign ‘Back Our Buses.’
Burnham and the councillors still have a focus on making Manchester more connected and accessible at a cheaper price. The Bee Network is “connecting up every area and community in Greater Manchester.”
The aim is for buses run 24 hours a day in ‘key routes’ and cap the fair at £2 for adults on single journeys.
The lack of funding resulted in Andy Burnham telling the Manchester Evening News, “We’re not going to be in a position to do everything that we wanted to do.”
Greater Manchester councillors and MPs of the labour party have come out in support of Burnham’s plans. For example MP of Bolton South East, Yasmin Qureshi, tweeted that Burnham, “will change the lives of my constituents for the better.”
The transport changes spearheaded by @AndyBurnhamGM will change the lives of my constituents for the better
They've been plagued by poor services and high costs for too long
— Yasmin Qureshi MP (@YasminQureshiMP) April 14, 2022
Greater Manchester’s Labour councillors have also released a joint statement criticising the Conservative government which said:
“Politics is all about choices. Currently we have a government which would rather write off billions of pounds of taxpayer money stolen by fraudsters than invest an extra £120 million in improving our public transport network and easing the cost of living through cheaper bus fares.
“We’re launching a campaign calling on the Conservatives to back our buses. And we hope local Conservative councillors and MPs – who so far have opposed our plans for cheaper fares and more frequent services – will join us in securing better buses for all those we represent.”
They have also started a petition asking for the full £218million funding to ‘Back our Buses’.