All-electric buses by 2031 - Greater Manchester’s plans for carbon neutral transport get into gear

Plans include full electrification of bus fleet in the next decade and building the UK’s largest cycling and walking network.

Ahead of travelling to Glasgow for the second week of the COP26 climate chance conference, Mayor Andy Burnham has set out a new ambition to become the first city-region to deliver a carbon neutral transport network.

Along with Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s Transport Commissioner, the Mayor completed a carbon neutral journey from South Manchester to the city centre, by electric bus and bike.

The Bee Network is Greater Manchester’s vision for an integrated transport system which will join together buses, trams, cycling and walking by 2024 - with rail incorporated by 2030 - to transform how people travel in Greater Manchester.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester is already leading the way in transport decarbonisation through our light rail network, the largest in the country, that runs on 100% renewable energy. Today we’re going one step further and setting out a new ambition to being the first UK city-region to deliver a carbon neutral transport network, including full electrification of our buses in the next decade.

Transport Commissioner Chris Boardman said they are about 10% of the way there to creating an integrated transport system.

He said: “The exciting thing about buses is, relative to public transport, they are quite cost effective, you can do them really quickly but we need to get it in place and make sure they go where people want to go.”

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What is in the plans?

Under the plans, the city region’s bus fleet aims to be 50% electric by 2027 and 100% electric within a decade, a move that would singlehandedly reduce carbon emissions by 1.1 million tonnes.

The Greater Manchester Ring and Ride fleet will also transition to zero emission technology by 2027.  Metrolink, the city region’s tram network, already runs on 100% renewable energy, and funding has recently been secured to the develop the next stage of plans for expanding the network.

The first fleet of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network cycle hire bikes - which will be one of the largest hire schemes outside London - will also be launched later this month and will be carbon neutral.

To encourage more walking trips, the city region has today published a report that shows strong evidence for zebra markings to be authorised for use on side roads to increase safety and the number of people walking to school, work and the shops. 

The city-region is also introducing the UK’s largest Clean Air Zone outside of London covering almost 1,300km2and coming into effect in May 2022.