This is what Manchester’s new Bee Network buses will look like

All buses in Greater Manchester will be under public control by 2025 with routes in the North of the city-region franchised by March 2024.

Andy Burnham has unveiled what new buses on his Bee Network will look like.

The Greater Manchester mayor made a series of announcements about the new London-style public transport system this morning (September 22).

It comes one year before the first buses in the city-region are brought under public control, giving local leaders power over routes, fares and ticketing.

He revealed that an order has been placed for 50 new electric yellow buses which will be rolled out across Wigan and Bolton from September 17, 2023.

Manchester’s new Bee Network buses Credit: GMCA

The Alexander Dennis buses will have audio-visual announcements of stops, charging points for mobile phones and contactless card payments readers.

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All buses in Greater Manchester will be under public control by 2025 with routes in the North of the city-region franchised by March 2024 before services in the South join the system by January 5 of the following year.

Transport commissioner Vernon Everitt said there has been ‘huge interest’ from bus operators so far with 33 bids for the 11 contracts currently available.

He also revealed that Greater Manchester Police will treat the transport network as the “11th district”, giving it the same status as other boroughs.

This will see officers ‘surge’ services across the public transport network in the way that they have been in each of the boroughs under Operation Avro.

Mr Burnham admitted that safety on public transport is still an issue, but he hopes that pooling police resources for buses, trams and trains will help.

He also announced his intentions for a capped weekly ticket for all bus operators to be introduced in the new year, with negotiations under way.

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Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and transport commissioner Vernon Everitt unveil the Bee Network branding. Credit: LDRS.

It follows the launch of new single fares capped at £2 for adults and £1 for children and multi-operator day tickets priced at £5 at the start of September.

Mr Burnham said people are taking advantage of the lower fares, promising to publish the data showing the impact they have had on bus usage next month.

However, he admitted that some regular bus users would not benefit from the capped fares because weekly tickets work out cheaper on certain services.

He hopes to reduce the price of multi-operator weekly tickets below £20.60.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday (September 22), the Labour mayor said the Bee Network will be a source of pride for the city-region.

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He said: “I believe this will become an iconic symbol of Greater Manchester and the city in time and will be used to identify Manchester going forward.”

Who will voice the buses?

Speculation has already started over who will voice the announcements on Greater Manchester’s new buses and whether they’ll have Mancunian accents.

The Alexander Dennis buses, which are used in London, will also have audio-visual announcements advising passengers of the next stop on the journey.

However, when asked if the announcements would be made in a Mancunian accent, Mr Burnham and his transport commissioner were taken by surprise.

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But the Merseyside-born mayor ruled out voicing the announcements himself.

He said: “It’s quite an interesting idea.

“That would make it a very iconic experience if Liam Gallagher was announcing the next stop.

“Whether visitors to the city would be fully able to make sense of it all is another question.”

Mr Burnham joked: “But I’ll give Liam a call and see if he’s free.

“That certainly would make life in the city interesting.”