All the 65 Greater Manchester bus services at risk of cuts if a rescue plan fails
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A plan to save dozens of bus services across Greater Manchester is to be signed off by transport bosses this week – but there are fears of a ‘devastating’ impact on the network should it fail.
Government funding helped to keep bus services going during the pandemic, as plummeting passenger numbers put their future at risk.
But that emergency cash is set to be pulled from October – and commercial operators in Greater Manchester have identified a raft of unprofitable services they intend to axe completely or run less often.
In total operators intend to cut 33 services, while a further 32 services would see reductions in frequency or changes to the route.
A plan to save the routes and maintain service levels as best as possible has been hatched by local leaders – who say failure to act would have ‘significant’ consequences for people who rely on public transport.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is currently working on retendering contracts, using funding from existing budgets and the government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan.
Where operators – such as Stagecoach, First and Transdev – are proposing to run services less often, TfGM would seek to agree a subsidy to maintain current service levels up to a maximum of four buses per hour.
But rescuing services which operators intend to pull altogether hangs on successfully retendering the contracts – something which may not be easy.
A report to the GMTC acknowledges that rising costs – including fuel and driver wages – have ‘further undermined the viability of the network and continues to do so’.
The rescue plan goes before the Greater Manchester Transport Committee for approval on Friday.
But committee member Councillor David Meller has warned the the rescue package is almost entirely dependent on successfully retendering the contracts – leaving vital bus services in the borough ‘under serious threat’.
In Stockport, where Coun Meller is shadow cabinet member for economy and regeneration, there are fears losing the 42B would mean commuters in Cheadle, Cheadle Hulme and Bramhall would lost any viable link to the city centre. The remaining 42C does not arrive in Piccadilly Gardens until 8.30am in the morning, while the last service of the day leaves Manchester at 6.02pm.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that failure to secure under-threat services would have a ‘devastating’ effect on the network.
Below is a list of the services that are to be axed by their current operator from October – and the action proposed by TfGM in a bid to save them.
Diamond 507 to be retendered.
Diamond 533 to be retendered.
Diamond 571/572 to be retendered.
Stagecoach 103 to be retendered.
First 180 to be retendered.
First 6 to be retendered.
Transdev R3 to be retendered.
Stagecoach 313 to be retendered.
Stagecoach 322 direct award to contractor.
Stagecoach 328 to be retendered.
Stagecoach 358 to be retendered.
Stagecoach 378/379 to be retendered.
Stagecoach 237 to be retendered.
5/5A direct award subject to Warrington BC.
Stagecoach 1 / 2 to be retendered.
Diamond 597 to be retendered.
Diamond 635 to be retendered.
28 to be directly awarded subject to Warrington BC.
Transdev 480 to be retendered.
Diamond 511 to be retendered.
Stagecoach 56 to be retendered.
42B direct award to contractor.
Stagecoach 108 to be retendered.