Bus reforms prioritised in Greater Manchester

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has pledged to improve the city-region’s bus network, including free bus travel for 16 to 18-year olds.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority claims that more than three quarters of public transport journeys in Greater Manchester are made by bus. However, despite the demand, overall bus use is declining in the region with more than 32 million fewer journeys by bus than 10 years ago.

The new Opportunity Pass for 16 to 18-year-olds seeks to bring to a halt such a decline in bus use by young people and stimulate an increase in patronage, connecting people with jobs, housing, education, healthcare, shops, family and friends. The Opportunity Pass for 16 to 18-year-olds will provide free bus travel across the network for young people, as well as access to leisure and cultural facilities across the Greater Manchester at a free or reduced rate.

The cost for such a proposal will be offset by an increase in council tax bills, known as the mayoral precept.

Burnham said: “Bus reform is essential for the future success of Greater Manchester as the current system simply isn’t working. The current bus system is driven by the needs of operators rather than what the travelling public needs. This must change and these plans are a vital step in our overall vision for a bus network that works for everyone.

“More than a quarter of young people aged between 16 and 18 use buses as their primary means of transport – but these numbers are declining more quickly than the rest of Greater Manchester’s bus users. We want to reverse this - the Opportunity Pass will encourage more young people than ever before to use the bus.

“Surveys show that the costs of travel can be prohibitive for young people travelling to college, to apprenticeships or training so this pass will help us reduce the numbers of young people not in education, employment or training. This benefits not just young people themselves, but also wider society. And by getting young people into the good habit of using the bus, we’re demonstrating to the next generation of workers that the best way to get around Greater Manchester is by public transport, which will ultimately reduce congestion on our roads.”

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