Stagecoach proposes new partnership for post-Covid rebound in Manchester

With one eye on the proposals from the region’s mayor to introduce bus franchising, Stagecoach has set out a package of proposed partnership measures in Greater Manchester which it says will help the post-Covid acceleration of bus use in the region.

The operator has proposed a two-year programme of measures delivered jointly by the public and private sector, and says a series of pilot projects in the region could help deliver the planned National Bus Strategy for England, which is due to be published within the next few months.

Before Covid, buses accounted for around 50 per cent of all journeys on public transport, with more than 4 billion journeys a year made by bus in England. In Greater Manchester, some 75 per cent of all public transport journeys have continued to be made by bus despite the pandemic.

But car use has returned rapidly in regions around the country and, despite the latest lockdown measures, is at 57 per cent of pre-Covid levels, compared with 27 per cent for bus use. 

Stagecoach’s plan envisages a new combined public and private sector Partnership Board, chaired by the mayor to develop bus improvement plans in the Greater Manchester city region. 

This would help deliver faster bus journeys in the city centre through bus infrastructure improvements, an accelerated roll out of more electric buses and the expansion of flexible ticket options to reflect changed travel patterns during Covid-19, simplifying fare types and further integrating bus tickets with tram.

Lee Wasnidge, managing director, Stagecoach Manchester, says: “There is a huge opportunity for the bus to drive a re-energised country coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve seen in 2020 what our country can achieve when we all pull together. We can build on that spirit of partnership as we move forward in 2021 and beyond.”