Andy Burnham announces new bus fares to combat cost of living crisis
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has announced that bus fares will be capped to help combat the cost of living crisis.
Burnham said that bus fares will be capped at £2 for adults and £1 for children for all buses in Greater Manchester. These changes are set to come into place from September 2022. He also announced that the price of the day passes will be brought down to £5, with passes issued by one operator will be accepted by all operators.
However, the changes have not yet been approved by the bus operators in Greater Manchester as only 10 council leaders and Andy Burnham have agreed to the changes.
Speaking to The Mancunion at a press conference his morning (16 June), Burnham expressed optimism that the operators would agree to the changes. He said, “I can’t see why they wouldn’t want to because this is all about getting more people using buses, [it’s] about growing the market for bus … use here in Greater Manchester.” He believes that this plan will increase passengers to the buses, thus benefitting the operators.
Furthermore, Burnham also believes that the operators should agree with this decision because of the cost of living crisis, saying: “I know we can take pressure off people and why would anybody stand in the way of that when you’ve got a plan to do that? I just think this is something that you would hope everybody would see the need for and it’s something that everybody can get behind.”
Although, in a bid to stay honest, he said that if there are not enough people using the buses then they’d have to review the structure after a year, stating: “But I do have to be honest with people today and say, you know if people didn’t change and we didn’t see any rise in bus numbers we would have to potentially review this structure. But we’re trying to make it permanent that’s certainly my [wish]”. Thus, he called for residents to more readily use the buses in Manchester to ensure that these prices can stay low for everyone.
However, often the bus from Fallowfield to the University, and back, will be packed so people may have to wait a long time before getting on a bus. In response to this problem he said: “Well, that’s partly what we’re going to discuss with the bus companies whether or not they need to take on extra fleet to deal with the passenger numbers. So that is part of the discussion. Actually, I think there’s a recognition that we need extra buses, but in many places, our buses aren’t full.”
This plan is a step towards Burnham’s wish to make public transport more like London where transport is centralised and capped. However, the council’s control over the buses does not come in till 2025. Hence, for right now this is the plan that Burnham and co have come up with.
When questioned about how the £ 5-day pass will work across the different bus operators and whether it would be like London where it reads your card instead of a purchased ticket Burnham said, “That model is coming, although not in September. So, what we are working towards is a fully integrated system where transit are totally integrated with the buses. It’ll be all electric in time. It will be a tap-in-tap-out system. And it will count journeys across bus and tram and it will connect the whole thing. So that is coming in 2025. But that’s not what’s coming in September”
During the conference Burnham claimed GMCA would like to improve the frequency and quality of bus services but cannot due to a lack of funding.
He said, “The first is that we just didn’t get the funding for bus services improvement to address the frequency that we asked for. So we only got half the money that we asked for. And the government are also saying to us that they won’t fund recovery funding from October. So we’re not in a position where we can do everything. I wish we were, but we’re not.”