Leaders have agreed to consult on re-regulating the bus network for the first time since 1986, in a bid to drastically improve it. One council chief blasted operators for their current lack of accountability – saying he has to ‘tweet like a troll’ at them when something goes wrong.
Greater Manchester is to consult on taking public control of the region’s bus network, making it the first place in the country to use new powers over services.
Today (Monday), council leaders agreed to push ahead with their franchising plans – a key milestone in the conurbation’s devolution journey.
The move has been heavily opposed by operators such as Stagecoach, but strongly supported by Labour politicians, unions and, apparently, Boris Johnson .
It would mean local authority leaders and Andy Burnham taking over responsibility for planning routes, setting fares and linking up the bus network with other forms of public transport through a franchised system – something they have been unable to do since 1986.
They see it as key to finally creating a transport network in the style of London , which was the only place to have retained control of its buses after Margaret Thatcher de-regulated them elsewhere more than 30-years-ago.
Since then, routes and fares have largely been in the hands of private operators, with government funding steadily declining in recent years and many routes cut.
A public consultation on the plan will launch on October 14, with leaders urging as many people as possible across the conurbation to have their say.