Nine operators enter Manchester franchising first round

Nine bidders in first round of Manchester bus franchising

Nine operators have placed 33 bids for the first 11 bus franchising contracts that Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will award as part of progressive reregulation of bus services in the city region. 

Those contracts will begin operation in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Salford and west Manchester – classed as sub area A by TfGM – from 17 September 2023 and represent the first part of a three-stage rollout of reregulation.

Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and parts of north Manchester will follow from the end of March 2024 as sub area B. The process will complete with Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, south Manchester and remaining parts of Salford on 5 January 2025 as sub area C. 

A report on bus reform published by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in March 2021 notes that contracts will be split into large franchises and small franchises. A general principle set by GMCA is that for the latter, the upper PVR limit will be 33, with anything above that categorised as a large franchise.  

The extent of interest in the first round of contracts has been described as “strong” by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham. Details of bid numbers were revealed while TfGM confirmed it has ordered 50 BYD ADL Enviro400EV battery-electric double-deckers for use in sub area A.

Separately, GMCA and Mr Burnham have said that: 

  • Engagement with operators about potential to cap weekly bus tickets from early 2023 has begun. If introduced, it will expand on existing single and daily caps
  • Mr Burnham has met newly installed Secretary of State for Transport Anne-Marie Trevelyan to underline the case for delivery of the integrated Bee Network in Greater Manchester 
  • Significant resource will be committed to the TravelSafe Partnership, which will also become part of Greater Manchester Police’s Operation Avro, to clamp down on antisocial behaviour on public transport 
  • In week commencing 26 September, TfGM will launch “its biggest ever campaign” to get people back onboard public transport or to consider active travel modes.