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Transport Secretary launches 'bus revolution' across the country

Under the government’s plan, local transport authorities will be empowered to take back control of buses

11 July 2024
Map showing complementary Quality Bus routes
Map showing complementary Quality Bus routes
Bee Network buses
Bee Network buses


Incoming Transport Secretary Louise Haigh is visiting Manchester to launch a 'bus revolution' across the country.

Under the government’s plan, local transport authorities will be empowered to take back control of buses. The Transport Secretary is pledging to create and save vital bus routes up and down the country, calling time on the failed system of deregulation that has seen service levels plummet. The plans will also bring an end to the postcode lottery of bus services by providing safeguards over local networks across the country.

Louise Haigh said: Buses are the lifeblood of communities, but the system is broken." 

"Too often, passengers are left waiting hours for buses that don’t turn up – and some have been cut off altogether. 

"Change starts now. This new government will give local leaders the tools they need to deliver better buses up and down the country.

"Our plan will create and save vital bus routes by giving every community the power to take back control of their bus services through franchising or public ownership."

Haigh has also announced her wider plans for transport and named her incoming ministerial team.

The Bus Revolution will be explored in detail at Quality Bus 2024 in September 23-24, in Manchester. Guides Bee Network bus tours and site visits will be available to delegates. Local authorities can apply for a Bus Centre of Excellence-supported place here

The Manchester experience

Haigh will meet with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to discuss how the area’s Bee Network can be replicated across the country to deliver better services, grow passenger numbers and drive opportunity to under-served regions.

Launched in September 2023 as the first bus franchise in England outside London, the integrated Bee Network has delivered for local people by growing passenger numbers and improving the reliability of local bus services. This has already seen passenger numbers grow by 5% in the first area to be franchised, with revenue following suit.

The Transport Secretary will see first-hand how the successes of the Bee Network can be replicated across the country, improving services and handing power back to local people. She will also hear directly the challenges faced by Greater Manchester during its franchising journey. Greater Manchester endured a six-year slog to deliver local control of bus services due to unnecessary barriers. The government’s plan will remove these barriers so better buses can be delivered faster.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: "Properly integrated public transport is the key to unlocking growth and opportunity across our city-region, improving the lives of our residents, supporting businesses and delivering greater value for money. The numbers speak for themselves – our Bee Network has more passengers than ever before and is providing a better service for residents."

Vernon Everitt and Dame Sarah Storey have been re-appointed as Greater Manchester’s transport and active travel commissioners to oversee the next phase of delivery of the transformational Bee Network.

The latest figures show that the Bee Network is delivering a more reliable bus service than before they came under local control, with growing numbers of people using them. Over the past six months, the number of people using buses in those areas has increased by 5%, with the week ending 18 May recording the highest weekly patronage to date since franchising started, with over 849,000 passenger journeys.

A long-term plan for transport

The bus plan is part of the new government’s ambition to develop a long-term, national strategy for transport. This will ensure infrastructure can be delivered efficiently and on time while allowing local people to take back control of their buses, trams and trains.

Graham Vidler, CEO of the Confederation of Passenger Transport said: "The industry stands fully behind the objectives of growing the nation’s vital bus network and improving passengers’ experiences. We look forward to working hand in hand with the government to deliver change which benefits passengers across the whole country and drives swifter progress towards the UK’s climate targets."

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