Passengers snub new Greater Manchester buses over ‘lack of seats’

The V1 buses are also not famed for their punctuality, according to new surveys on the Leigh Guided Busway.

Passengers are not using V1 buses because of a lack of seats, experts believe. The Leigh Guided Busway’s main issue is punctuality, a sub-committee believes following surveys conducted on the V1 and V2 services from Manchester to Leigh and Atherton.

Nick Roberts, Head of Services & Commercial Development at TfGM stated that they have bus capacity right and have decided not to change the V2 short service from Atherton to Tyldesley, GMCA’s Bus Services Sub-Committee heard on November 18. They decided that low passenger figures on the V2 service means they will continue to put resources elsewhere in the network.

This comes despite complaints led by Atherton Councillor Stuart Gerrard and an online petition in recent months which suggested this was necessary for the area, which previously had three direct services into Manchester.

“When we looked at some of the figures when it appeared that passengers weren’t boarding the service because we thought the capacity was full, that wasn’t the case,” Mr Roberts told the committee. “Quite a lot of passengers on the Vantage services don’t get on the bus when they think it’s full, but they get on the bus because they’d rather wait sometimes for a branded vehicle, or sometimes because they just want a seat and don’t want to get on a crowded bus. 

“So the buses aren’t always full, but some people just like to wait for the next one because they’re guaranteed a seat. So we do think that we’ve got the capacity right on Vantage at the moment and the figures show that in terms of pre-Covid levels, capacity is averaging at around 70 per cent of those pre-Covid figures.

“We then looked at the V2 shorts – this is where on the off-peak services from Atherton, we have run the shorts only to Tyldesley where passengers have to change – which I know has been quite a controversial thing. We have monitored the passenger figures there and of the six journeys, passenger figures remain very low. 

“On three of those journeys, passenger figures are only two. The usage remains very low on those services, similar to the passenger levels that we had pre-Covid. 

“So we still believe that the fact that we’ve moved some of that to resources elsewhere on the network remains the right decision.”

He concluded that punctuality of the buses was the main issue, with congestion in the city centre being a problem for buses running to time. But they are hoping the roadworks on the A6 – the Broad Street and Frederick Road section – being completed will improve this.

Coun John Vickers, in attendance on behalf of Wigan Council at the committee meeting in Friends Meeting House in Manchester, stated that there were other bus service issues in the Wigan area. Some of these connect to the Vantage service in Atherton.

“I am still getting complaints and information from other councillors in the area not specifically regarding Vantage buses but the system through Atherton itself,” he told the committee. “Specifically regarding the 132 to the Trafford Centre, the 582 which goes through Atherton to Bolton, the 583 which is an Atherton to Leigh bus and also other services which impact on the people of Atherton.

“Reliability of buses turning up and we had instances of three 582s not turning up on the road to Bolton. The 132, I regularly get complaints about not turning up or being late.”

Because of the connectivity with the Vantage service it has an impact on their service as well, Coun Vickers went on to say.