Watch drone footage which shows off Bee Network bus fleet that could transform Greater Manchester travel

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On September 24, Greater Manchester will see buses brought under local control for the first time in almost 40 years.

This incredible footage shows off the new bus fleet that could transform the way passengers travel across Greater Manchester.

On September 24, Greater Manchester will see buses brought under local control for the first time in almost 40 years. The Bee Network – Greater Manchester’s plan for an integrated London-style low fare, high volume transport system – will enable bus routes and fares to be set at a local level.

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The first improvements are planned in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Bury, Salford and Manchester. Transport for Greater Manchester hopes this will see buses run earlier and later, better integrating them with first and last train and tram services. This will include the 471 Bolton-Bury-Rochdale service and 362 Standish to Wigan buses and will be reflected in other areas of Greater Manchester as franchised services roll out across the region.

In anticipation of the launch next month, TfGM have launched drone footage of the new bus fleet in all its glory. The new yellow buses feature the Bee Network logo to provide a ‘striking’ new look that will make the new transport system stand out.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham inside one of the new Bee Network buses..Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham inside one of the new Bee Network buses..
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham inside one of the new Bee Network buses.. | TfGM

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said at the launch: “It’s now just one month until we start to bring buses back under local control. With cheaper fares, new electric buses, earlier and later running services and improved customer information, people really will be better off with the Bee Network.

“We’ve reached an exciting moment on our journey to improve how people can travel across the city-region. It was great to see our striking fleet of 50 new electric, yellow buses here in Greater Manchester, with the final touches now being applied before they start operating next month. The final countdown to the start of the Bee Network is well and truly on.”

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Additional electric buses, along with a range of new Euro VI buses, will start to be delivered within six months of September 24. The zero-emission electric buses are fully accessible and offer a range of customer improvements including two bays for wheelchair-users, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems and anti-slip flooring.

Greater Manchester Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt said: “The launch of bus franchising in one month is a significant milestone as we build an integrated public transport and active travel network that our residents, businesses and visitors deserve in a rapidly growing and thriving city-region.

“Delivering transport options that are safe, reliable, affordable and inclusive is essential in enabling further sustainable economic growth, new jobs and homes and access to education and leisure.

“We continue to take action to make transport affordable, simpler to use and joined up. A single adult bus fare remains £2 with unlimited journeys available for £5 all day and the cost of a weekly bus pass remains capped at £21.”

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Bus franchising is being delivered in phases, with buses coming under local control in Rochdale, Oldham, Bury and parts of Manchester, Salford and Tameside from 24 March, followed by the rest of Greater Manchester from 5 January 2025.

The ambitious plans will bring in local rail services by 2030 and will continue expanding walking, wheeling and cycling routes. Meanwhile from the start of the new school year in September 2023, 84 bus services for 31 schools in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Manchester, Salford and Bury will join the Bee Network. There will be no changes to the schools served or the numbers of buses used on these services, and children can continue to use them as normal.

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