While this is a bold initiative, its potential weakness is that it is a Stagecoach offer and not a Greater Manchester-wide offer (I understand that Stagecoach has not been able to take others with it).
It could therefore be dismissed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) as only covering South Manchester.
A more rational response from GMCA might be to franchise in the north and operate the partnership proposal in the south. That way the two can be evaluated and the results can inform the best route after 10 years.
Regrettably there isn’t much rationale from Transport for Greater Manchester or the GMCA members desperate for ‘control’. The latter have expended a lot of political capital on it already, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they reject partnership, claiming a hybrid arrangement too complicated to deliver (unless they can’t find the money, of course).
On a related note, I gather that GMCA is struggling to fund its Clean Air Zone plans. DEFRA has apparently offered to fund enforcement, but not the conversion costs to deliver compliant fleets. At which point Stagecoach’s offer to provide 500 low-emission buses as part of its partnership offer becomes more attractive!
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