Greater Manchester has been consulting on proposals for better buses through a system known as bus franchising, which means regulation and public control over things like bus routes, fares, and timetables.
Below is the response submitted to the consultation by Councillor Marcus Johns.
Better buses for Greater Manchester
GM Bus Consultation
Ipsos MORI, c/o GMCA
56 Oxford Street
To the consultation team,
I am writing as a local Councillor for Deansgate ward to support the proposals for bus franchising.
I strongly agree with the finding that under all scenarios, franchising remains the best option to meet our strategic transportation goals, and in my view it is the only option that will deliver the fully integrated, modern public transport system that Greater Manchester desperately needs.
There are a number of reasons which drive my support for bus franchising, including:
- The bus market is not working; fares have risen while services have been relentlessly cut by bus companies who fail to make decisions in the public interest.
- The climate emergency mandates us to drastically increase the use of public transport and to ensure that the network is as low carbon as possible, only franchising provides sufficient control to do so.
- Only franchising allows the true London-style integration and simplified fares that Greater Manchester deserves across buses, trams, trains, and future bike-hire and other public transport options.
- Franchising would bolster strategic decision making by helping to weave together transport planning, land use planning, and other long-term planning to ensure that Greater Manchester can meet its strategic priorities and build a city region that works for the people who live here.
- Franchising allows Greater Manchester to protect and improve the working conditions of bus drivers and other staff, requiring decent working conditions as part of the franchising process—which are routinely threatened in the current system by bus companies.
- I believe that the public overwhelmingly support local democratic decision making over the bus network, which franchising provides and which is currently missing.
The current system fails to deliver against these aspirations yet requires significant public subsidy and no control for the people of Greater Manchester over fares, most route-planning and timetabling.
We can change this, and the best solution open to us is the proposed bus franchising model. I would add that it is regrettable that the law precludes Greater Manchester from operating municipal bus companies which could compete for franchises, and I hope future Governments resolve this.
Overall, franchising is the best step for better buses in Greater Manchester and I support these proposals wholeheartedly.
Labour Councillor for Deansgate ward