Greater Manchester transport bosses aim to get MPs and peers on board with their drive for better buses at a House of Commons event tomorrow.
Up to a hundred MPs, peers and other key opinion formers are expected to attend the afternoon reception – themed ‘Making buses work for our cities’ – being hosted by Bolton West MP and Transport Select Committee member, Julie Hilling.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TfGMC) and Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport will both speak at the event.
Councillor Fender said: “Bus services are a fundamental aspect of an effective economy, providing essential access to work, education and training opportunities – and what could be more important than this in the current economic climate?
“In Greater Manchester, we have been working hard to encourage and incentivise greater service consistency across our bus system, which is run by a range of bus companies. Despite our good relationships with bus operators, it is not proving easy or straightforward to secure binding commitments, particularly on fares.
“This is of the greatest concern to us right now because of the excessive costs which residents in some parts of Greater Manchester face compared to others.
“We are also seriously concerned that the value for money of the significant investment that TfGM and the Government are currently making in smart-ticketing systems will be undermined if we are not able to secure consistent and coordinated bus fares across the conurbation as a whole.
“On the TfGM Committee, all three political parties agree that more needs to be done and I look forward to furthering this debate on a national level with politicians at the House of Commons tomorrow.”
Bus services in Greater Manchester – and other major urban areas outside London – are run by private operators for profit.
TfGMC wants to utilise a range of powers and resources to bring private sector providers together to provide accessible, affordable and integrated public transport.
The Committee is currently exploring how far ‘voluntary partnerships’ with bus operators can deliver a more integrated network and is also looking at the practicalities of a ‘quality contract’ approach.
More than 220 million passenger journeys are made on Greater Manchester’s buses every year.
Transport for Greater Manchester was recently named Integrated Transport Authority of the Year at the 2012 National Transport Awards. It was also highly commended for its approach to improving bus services.