Abellio: Bus franchising ‘can be success in Greater Manchester’


Operator’s research shows public in favour; Deputy MD Abellio talks of ‘need for buses to change’

Abellio has thrown its hat into the ring as a potential entrant into the Greater Manchester bus market should franchising happen there.

Research undertaken by the group shows that 95% of Greater Manchester residents favour franchising. That demonstrates “a need for bus services to change and vastly improve” in the conurbation,” says Deputy MD and Chief Operating Officer Alan Pilbeam.

Mr Pilbeam claims that Abellio’s experience in London, where it runs over 750 buses, shows that a franchising model works. “It can be a success in Greater Manchester as well,” he adds.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham favours plans to take the region’s services into public control. OneBus, which represents 18 operators in Greater Manchester, has announced plans for a “ground-breaking” £100m partnership that it says will “revolutionise” buses in the conurbation.

The ComRes research, carried out on Abellio’s behalf, shows that 95% of respondents support the idea of subsidising routes that are unprofitable but necessary for the public good. 88% think that operators should use the same fare structure.

The same proportion believe that local people should have a greater say in how and where services are provided. 91% believe that a system like London’s Oyster card should be introduced.

“We did this research because we wanted to know what the residents of Greater Manchester want from their bus network. The Mayor’s proposal would put decision making back into the hands of the public and allow them to choose a transport system that works for them,” adds Mr Pilbeam.

Thus far no indication has been given how franchising in Greater Manchester will be paid for.