Recovery partnership proposal involves collaboration between operators, government, and local transport authorities to drive up bus use

Stagecoach has announced a package of proposed partnership measures in Greater Manchester which it hopes will help boost bus use in the region post-COVID-19 and act as a blueprint for other operators.

The two-year programme, which would be delivered through public and private sector partnership, involves “a pilot for an integrated package of joint interventions and investments that can deliver regional and national government objectives”.

The measures include a combined public and private sector Partnership Board chaired by the Mayor to develop bus improvement plans in Greater Manchester; infrastructure improvements to create faster bus journeys in the city centre; faster roll-out of electric buses and infrastructure, and green mobility credits to incentivise bus use; flexible ticketing options to simplify fares and integrate bus and tram tickets; an expansion of Stagecoach’s demand responsive transport solution, Stagecoach Connect; integration of e-bikes and e-scooters for first- and last-mile journeys; clearer timetable information and real-time journey data across the region.

The blueprint could be delivered as part of a “recovery partnership approach,” Stagecoach says, supported by government and involving an agreement between operators and local transport authorities. Partnership would offer clear objectives and the flexibility to “deliver local solutions to tackle local priorities”.

Managing Director of Stagecoach Manchester Lee Wasnidge says: “There is a huge opportunity for the bus to drive a re-energised country coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen in 2020 what our country can achieve when we all pull together. We can build on that spirit of partnership as we move forward in 2021 and beyond.

“As the government looks to finalise its National Bus Strategy, we believe an innovative package of partnership initiatives in Greater Manchester, one of the most important regions in the country, can show the way to boost bus use across the country.

“More electric buses, mobility credits incentives, and new innovative on-demand services to meet people’s changing lifestyles, combined with better infrastructure and more bus priority, can deliver greener and more connected towns and cities.

“This comprehensive approach will not only help Greater Manchester truly deliver on its huge potential – it is a blueprint for other regions to accelerate bus use and build more sustainable communities.”