Bus reform proposals - Stagecoach keen to seize 'major' opportunity to rebuild networks

Date published: 22 November 2020

Stagecoach Group plc has noted the announcement by Greater Manchester Combined Authority regarding the re-evaluation of its previously announced bus reform proposals in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

GMCA has recommended that the authority proceeds with its plans for a proposed bus franchising scheme by undertaking a public consultation from December 2, 2020 to January 29, 2021.

The recommendation will be considered at a meeting of GMCA on November 27, 2020.

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Chief Executive, said: “The pandemic has had a significant impact on all public transport networks across the country, regardless of how these systems are structured.

"The key lesson has been the positive impact from government, local authorities and public transport operators working in partnership to deliver the vital services that customers and communities need in very challenging circumstances.

“We believe there is a major opportunity to build on this strong collaboration to put in place new Recovery Partnerships to rebuild bus networks and attract passengers back.

"These would provide the framework, funding and flexibility to ensure bus networks coming out of the pandemic meet the changing needs of local communities, get people back to work, and maximise the power of buses to drive a green recovery.

"Our priority before and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been to provide safe, high quality and accessible public transport built around the needs of local people.

"We will continue to work constructively with stakeholders in Greater Manchester and elsewhere to deliver the best and most sustainable bus networks for communities for the long-term.”

Recovery Partnerships would involve an agreement between bus operators and local transport authorities to work together to deliver a new post Covid-19 bus network, including short and long-term measures to deliver a sustainable system to meet passenger priorities.

Under the proposal, which has been submitted by bus operators to the Department for Transport, Recovery Partnerships would be allocated ring-fenced funding focused on passenger improvements.

There would be clear goals, incentives and measures of success for all parties, as well as the flexibility for local solutions to take account of local circumstances.

These partnerships are designed to act as a bridge from the current interim arrangements to a longer-term commercially sustainable system.

Recovery Partnerships would have the power to deliver bus priority measures, targeted fares initiatives, funding to kick-start new services, and support for existing community links.

This is designed to ensure bus services can drive a green recovery from the pandemic, support climate change and clean air targets, and help rebuild town and city centres.

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