There is an alternative to bus franchising that will bring better bus services at no public cost.

The bus franchising proposal –
what does that mean for you?

No increase in the size of bus network

No increase in the size of bus network

Fare increases above inflation every year

Fare increases above inflation every year

No investment in newer, greener buses

No investment in newer, greener buses

Passenger numbers falling

Passenger numbers falling

Nothing on congestion

Nothing on congestion

Bus network

Will there be any increases in the number of bus routes under franchising?

No. Despite claims in the franchising consultation document that there are gaps in the current network, there are no specific plans to introduce any extra routes. (Reference: GMCA Consultation document paragraph 4.30i).

Will franchising stop cuts to bus services?

No. Under the franchising proposals, the plan is to reallocate existing resources away from bus popular routes. However, there are no details in the proposal about which services or frequencies will be cut and who that will affect. (Reference: GMCA Assessment document paragraph 6.3).

Fares

Will bus fares go up or down?

The proposal says fares will increase by the rate of inflation (RPI) plus +1.4% every year. If that rate of ticket increase had been applied over the last 10 years, fares would’ve increased by more than 40%. Not only that, but the Office for Budget Responsibility data shows that RPI inflation will be 2.7% in 2020 Q1, rising to 3.1% in 2023 Q4, which means tickets would have risen by 18% by the end of 2023. (Reference: GMCA Consultation document paragraphs 4.113 and 4.181).

Journey speed

Will franchising deliver increased reliability, faster journey times and less congestion?

No. Within the franchising proposals there is nothing that will address these issues and passengers will see no improvements in these things over the 5-year period it will take to roll out franchising over the whole area (Phase 1).

There is mention of a Phase 2, where the things which would make a real difference to passengers may be introduced including modernised, greener buses, bus priority lanes and other congestion-tackling measures, together with simplified bus branding. However, the proposal states there are “no committed funds” or a planned timescale for these. So the question of when this would happen remains uncertain but taxpayers would certainly cover these costs. (Reference: GMCA Consultation document paragraph 4.36 and 4.62).

Will franchising stop the decline in bus use?

The number of bus journeys in the Greater Manchester area is falling. There are many reasons for this, including congestion, changes in working patterns, car ownership and the expansion of the Metrolink tram network. The proposal makes it clear franchising will not prevent the decline, despite spending millions of pounds on planning and implementing franchising. In fact, GMCA projections (graph at 4.61) predict bus patronage under franchising will drop from 185m passengers a year in 2019 to less than 140m a year in 2040, a fall of 24%, meaning one in four bus journeys will be lost. (Reference: GMCA Consultation document paragraph 4.13, 4.14 and 4.16).

Clean air

Will franchising provide a newer, greener bus fleet?

No. The bus fleet will not become any more modern than it is today.

Under franchising the plan is to cover normal running costs. It doesn’t fund new investment. This means that in the calculations that have been made there is no additional money to invest in new, greener buses and therefore no improvements in air quality either. (Reference: GMCA Consultation document paragraph 4.30 iv, 4.36 and 4.9).

Cost and Value for money

Does franchising offer real value for money?

Through its own figures, GMCA’s proposal document shows the alternatives to franchising actually offer a better return on investment. And what’s more, GMCA is taking on a huge amount of risk to the public purse by assuming control of the bus network. GMCA would also be liable for covering the cost of any shortfalls in revenue through lower bus use and the impact of inflation on the costs of running the bus network.

The partnership proposal (the alternative to bus franchising put forward by Greater Manchester’s bus operators) provides a better benefit to cost ratio than the franchising proposal (more than £3 in benefits for every £1 invested) without the risk. (Reference: GMCA Consultation document paragraph 4.63, Table p52)

How much will this cost Greater Manchester’s taxpayers?

The entire cost of introducing franchising will have to be paid for through taxes. Some of this will be made up out of general taxation, but local council taxpayers within Greater Manchester will also face a charge.

According to the figures in the franchising proposal, the plan will cost at least £134.5m up to 2024/2025. A contribution from the Government has not been confirmed. In any case, there will be increases in council tax payments. (Reference: GMCA Consultation document paragraph 4.63, 4.77, 4.85 and 4.132).

What is the £134.5 million going to be spent on?

There are many costs franchising will incur which don’t currently exist, including a layer of bureaucracy which will cost millions each year. The feasibility study has already cost over £20 million itself. The implementation process will require a range of temporary specialist consultants such as IT, legal, and HR and around 60 extra office-based staff will be needed for ongoing management and to monitor contract compliance. This is a cost that current bus operators do not have and that money could be spent on the practical improvements which would make journeys faster and more reliable, reduce congestion and improve air quality. (Reference: GMCA Consultation document paragraph 4.122).

…or a Greater, Manchester way.

Let’s not lose sight of what our buses are all about; getting you to work, our children to school, the shopping home, nana to bingo and night owls home safe.

In Greater Manchester now:

Our fares are lower than London and independent research shows our customers are happier.

Tickets that let you travel on any bus, tram or train

Tickets that let you travel on any bus, tram or train

Weekly bus travel 10% cheaper than London

Weekly bus travel 10% cheaper than London (Source: System One / Transport for London)

9 in 10 bus services run on time

9 in 10 bus services run on time 8 out of 10 in London (Source: Transport for Greater Manchester /Transport for London)

9 in 10 customers satisfied with service

9 in 10 customers satisfied with service (Source: Transport Focus)

  • 80% of public transport journeys are made by bus.
  • 9 in 10 of our bus services start on time, despite worsening city centre congestion and roadworks. (compared to 8 in 10 in London).
  • Our average fare is 25% less than London’s £1.50 standard single fare.
  • We have one of the greenest bus fleets of any city in the UK.
  • You can already pay for bus travel by contactless payment, buy mobile tickets and have live bus information.

But it’s not about what we have now.

We want to work with local authorities to give you an even better bus service without the costs of bus franchising.

The partnership plan solves most of the issues that franchising seeks to address but without the public cost.

We’re offering:

Bus, tram and rail service times working together

Bus, tram and rail service times working together

Simpler tickets to use across all public transport

Simpler tickets to use across all public transport

One simple bus brand

One simple bus brand

450 new greener low emission buses

450 new greener low emission buses

  • Bus services that take you to where you want to go at the times you want to travel.
  • Tickets that make it easy for you to travel and can be used across all public transport.
  • A two year price freeze on multi-operator bus fares.
  • Bus, tram and rail service times working together to make your journeys easier.
  • More affordable travel for all ages.
  • 450 new low emission buses to improve the region’s air quality.
  • One bus brand.
  • One point of contact for all customer services.
  • Consistent travel information.
View the proposal

Taxpayers don’t want to pay higher taxes for better transport

Over £20m has already been spent by the transport authority on consultants’ reports to develop a plan for bus franchising. And even more public money will be needed to manage the contracts linked to bus franchising; it won’t all be spent on improving bus services. We believe this money could be better spent on tackling congestion to make all of our journeys quicker and to support other vital public services.

Bus franchising: £20 million of public money spent already on consultations rather than improvements.

(Source: Transport for Greater Manchester)

76% of people in Greater Manchester do not want any public transport improvements to result in higher taxes.

(Source: YouGov)

You’re Greater, Manchester

There is an alternative to bus franchising that will bring better bus services at no public cost.