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How Do You Make The Buses Work? Debate

Fringe debate ponders the imponderable

Published on September 18th 2012.


How Do You Make The Buses Work? Debate

GREATER Manchester’s transport leaders will be debating ways to deliver better, fairer and more consistent bus services at a series of party political conference fringe events.

But since the de-regulated, commercial bus market was introduced back in 1986, two weaknesses have developed: uneven quality standards and a lack of integration, particularly around fares and ticketing.

The events have been organised by the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “The importance of bus services cannot be overstated. In Greater Manchester, around 80 per cent of public transport journeys are made by bus – a clear and considerable majority.

“They provide convenient ways of getting to work, to appointments and to local shops and attractions. Crucially, they are often the only way of getting around for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

“At a regional, economic level, they are great at delivering low carbon, congestion-busting mass transit. They do the essential, flexible joining up role and, as such, are an essential part of any successful urban transport system.

“But since the de-regulated, commercial bus market was introduced back in 1986, two weaknesses have developed: uneven quality standards and a lack of integration, particularly around fares and ticketing.

“So people in some parts of Greater Manchester are paying more per mile for a potentially poorer service than elsewhere simply because of where they live and who runs their local bus. It is crucial for that imbalance to be addressed if our bus network is going to achieve its full potential.”

At the Labour Party Conference fringe event on 1 October, Councillor Fender will be joined by Lilian Greenwood MP (Shadow Minister for Transport), Jonathan Reynolds MP (Stalybridge and Hyde) and Neil McInroy (Chief Executive, Centre for Local Economic Strategies).

Councillor Doreen Dickinson, Vice Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “The events we’ve organised for the conferences give us the chance to make the case for more local oversight, in order for us to nurture a more co-ordinated and integrated transport network.

“We already work closely with bus operators, but we feel there is a central role for bodies like TfGM to act as the co-ordinator across all modes – in shaping service delivery and in bringing together data on passenger information in order to influence ticketing and fare policies more effectively.”

At the Conservative Party Conference fringe event, on 7 October, Cllr Dickinson will be joined by Graham Evans MP, Steven Norris and Neil McInroy.

The Liberal Democrat Party Conference fringe event, this Sunday, will involve two Greater Manchester MPs: Transport Select Committee member John Leech and Mark Hunter (Cheadle).

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14 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

the Whalley RangerSeptember 18th 2012.

Now, it must be seen as good news that this is finally debated. Ever since privatisation, we have seen every possible lever pulled by the oligarchic cartels to keep major bus routes out of competition. What we have - in fact - are privatised monopolies.

South M/C in the hands of Stagecoach, the North is taken under First's incompetent wings. No competition, no value for the customer, £££ at annual shareholder meetings.

The resolution to this imbalance is simple:

1- introduce a blanket time charge on all bus routes across providers. The way to do it is by introducing ManGo

2- if failure persists locally, take the franchise away from the delinquents

Get on with it.

kevconnorSeptember 18th 2012.

There needs to be a system similar to London where services are partially regulated. South Yorkshire PTE tried to bring this in but had to back down after being strong armed by the big two.

DavidSeptember 18th 2012.

The problem with the buses is that half the customers,pensioners and kids are paying nothing or very little,while the fare for adults are sky high.If there are two or more of you,it is often cheaper to get a minicab
Also buses need a system,where there are electronic screens at bus stops telling you when the next bus is actually due.
Also I would favour guided bus lanes,down the centre of roads,like the trams are.So buses are given priority over other traffic.

UrbanefoxSeptember 19th 2012.

All service providers across Greater Manchester should charge a standard fare. This could be tiered for short journeys and long journeys, maybe on a zonal system.

It is patently unfair that, for essentially the same service, you pay much more for a journey of similar length in Salford or Oldham, than you do on some routes in South Manchester. I know that the service is so poor and so expensive for some parts of Salford that most people prefer to take taxi's as standard.

A standard fare could help curb the exploitation and profiteering engineered by the monopolies of Stagecoach and First.

It would also help in setting up an 'Oyster Card' style system in Manchester.

DavidSeptember 19th 2012.

Bus fares are exploitative of those on low income or living in areas with no alternative train or tram transport.They pay fares comparable to Metrolink but enjoy a much inferior service.I don't wish to take benefits away from pensioners,but it is patently unfair that rich pensioners can travel free,yet those commuting to minimum wage jobs are charged full wack.
There has been much talk about a living wage for Manchester,but doing something about their exorbitant travel costs,would make more sense.I know in the 1980s Thatcher stopped Sheffield council from subsidising bus fares,but this is something that needs to be considered again.In many ways giving those on minimum wage jobs reduced bus fares,would be better than simply raising the amount they pay before tax.

crisbySeptember 20th 2012.

I'd like to know how it is that Merseytravel can have a flat fare and TfGM can't. Is it because TfGM are fixated on trams maybe? And it's outrageous that fares per mile are so much lower on the Didsbury corridor than on routes serving working class areas like East Manchester. (As a Beswick resident I'm one of those that finds it cheaper for my wife and me to use minicabs than buses.) It's long overdue for our transport bosses to get a grip.

By the way, 'rich pensioners' in my experience (I'm not a pensioner myself) don't use buses, they drive. Please don't bash free OAP travel, which is a lifeline for so many.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidSeptember 20th 2012.

Rich pensioners certainly do use buses.I actually don't mind that,as it means there are less cars on the road.What I am pointing to in the unfairness that the working poor.Those that clean city centre offices early in the morning,for minimum wage,are treated so unfairly.They are having to pay a much higher proportion of their income on travel costs compared to city professionals or even teachers.

DavidSeptember 20th 2012.

Rich pensioners certainly do use buses.I actually don't mind that,as it means there are less cars on the road.What I am pointing to in the unfairness that the working poor.Those that clean city centre offices early in the morning,for minimum wage,are treated so unfairly.They are having to pay a much higher proportion of their income on travel costs compared to city professionals or even teachers.

AnonymousSeptember 21st 2012.

Everybody knows that buses are the future so it is beggars belief that Manchester's transport chiefs are only now 'debating' what's glaringly obvious to anyone trying to get around and in and out of Greater Manchester by public transport. There has been a complete lack of vision and innovation. Mancunians deserve much better. If Transport for London can do it, why can't GMT? We need a Ken Livingstone or a Boris, someone with energy and imagination and determination. All we've got are these tired second-rate old blokes wasting time - and our money - 'debating'. Oh God, save us from such incompetents!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 21st 2012.

London buses operate in a regulated market; Manchester's buses operate in a de-regulated private sector free-for-all. There is your reason. There is very little Manchester's "transport chiefs" can actually do.

Blame Thatcher for the de-regulation and successive governments since for not reversing it.

the Whalley RangerSeptember 23rd 2012.

Blame? You can legislate deregulation, i.e. privatised monopolisation. So, you can legislate the opposite, if you only want to...

Duke FameSeptember 24th 2012.

It's all very simple, not every bus needs to go into Manchester. Buses just need to link to the nearest railway station and the obvious solution is to allow the rail companies to operate bus services to link to the train system.

We've had lots of expensive ideas including the ludicrous TIF plan which seemed geared towards a pension plan for Mr Leese rather than make transportation better for those who pay his wages.

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

Serious people ought to read the Gov's proposals "Green Light for Better Buses" These have implication for motorists with their reference to congestion at the end. Just to remind everyone that its TfGM /GMCR not Manchester City Council who is the ringmaster.

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

You don't have to legislate Whalley Ranger you just have to do it. Two years ago London's bus scheme as costing £700M in subsidy

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