The Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) proposed franchising scheme has generated a stinging response from OneBus, the association that represents most bus operators in the region. It describes the future of Manchester’s buses under franchising as “frightening”.
OenBus Chief Executive Gary Nolan claims that GMCA has outlined no specific plans to improve the bus network. He also says that there is neither an agreed plan nor funding in place to deal with congestion. Additionally, passengers will see “inflation busting” fare increases under franchising.
The latter point is based on proposals that fares would increase at the rate of inflation plus 1.4% per year. OneBus says that if enforced, that would lead to prices rising by 18% by the end of 2023 under government inflation predictions.
The group also says that no greener buses will join the region’s fleet under the franchising process. It will also lead to higher taxes for residents, OneBus claims.
“We do not believe that Greater Manchester taxpayers should be forced to pay for such a costly and unnecessary system. It promises high fares without addressing congestion or air quality,” says Mr Nolan.
OneBus instead advocates partnership working. GMCA’s franchising proposal document shows would deliver a better benefit/cost ratio than franchising.
It points out that the Merseyside Bus Partnership has led to a 15% rise in fare-paying passengers since 2013/14 and that partnership in Bristol has helped to grow patronage by 52% in six years. The same process in Greater Manchester would deliver greener buses, improved ticketing and live journey information, the association adds.
“Our vision is investing in a network fit for the future, delivering regular improvements for the travelling public,” says Mr Nolan.