Andy Burnham wants simple 'London-style' bus system in Greater ManchesterGreater Manchester should have a more simple, London-style, bus system within three years, Mayor Andy Burnham said.
He has promised to re-regulate bus services so that one organisation will oversee all routes and operators.
Regulation could mean set fares, the introduction of Oyster-style payment cards which allow travel on buses and trains, and more consistent branding.
"I get more complaints about the buses than anything else," Mr Burnham told BBC Radio Manchester.
"Yes, we will be moving ahead with the powers we have with plans to re-regulate the buses.
"We won't be putting the buses in public hands as the government has ruled that out. However we can have a regulated system like London.
Burnham ignores the fact that the London system is rapidly heading for disaster as income and passenger numbers dive. It is claimed that Transport for London is heading for annual losses of £968m.
In a leaked email to staff Transport for London says that after day-to-day operating costs, there's not enough money to pay for planned renewals to make assets last longer and there's no money to pay interest on money borrowed. The email says: "If this was our household budget, this would be the same as not having enough money left over from our salary each month to pay our interest-only mortgage or get our car serviced."
Criticising the current situation in Greater Manchester, Mr Burnham said: "We are going to have the same here (as in London). But it is going to be two or three years away - it is very complicated."
Yes, it is Mr Burnham and the London model that these ideas are based on can no longer be used as the target to aim for. The days of London being held up as the shining example are fast disappearing. The London system has only survived on massive subsidies.
Councils also cannot afford to ignore traffic congestion which has a massive effect on bus running times. Reliable journey times play a big part in attracting and maintaining bus customers. No wonder "He gets more complaints about the buses than anything else" The buses get stuck in massive Manchester traffic jams. Burnham conveniently ignores the over use of the private car and instead blames the bus companies for problems caused by congestion. He realises that restricting the use of private transport within cities could be a massive vote looser so instead, pretends that it is the bus companies that are fault.
An estimated 210 million passenger bus journeys take place across Greater Manchester every year, accounting for 79% of all public transport journeys in the region. Buses need more priority measures and it is no longer acceptable to allow single occupancy cars to block up the roads in and out of cities.
Simple ticketing and faresTransport for Greater Manchester would be charged with implementing any of the mayor's plans, needing a large team of expensive people, all on the payroll of the council. At the moment the bus companies pick up the bill for staff who run the services and who do a magnificent job, in spite of Manchester's traffic logged roads.
A spokesman said: "Greater Manchester needs a joined-up transport network, with simple fares and ticketing, that puts the passenger first and guarantees the best value ticket for their journey. The bus companies would be quite willing to work with Councils to develop and implement joint ticketing, all that is needed is sensible discussion and a true willingness on behalf of Councils to partner with bus companies.
The Bus Services Bill, passed in April, will in theory, allow transport authorities to introduce franchising and new partnership arrangements and to offer multi-operator ticketing services.
Burnham seems to be ignoring the partnership idea and is pushing for absolute control for political reasons. Nexus found out in Tyneside that it is not necessarily the best way to go, £Millions were spent trying to convince everyone that franchising was the way forward. Questionable figures were submitted in a desperate attempt by those who should have known better, all to no avail. They were found out and exposed in the media.
So, Mr Burnham be very careful about making false claims, a sensible look at partnerships is highly recommended before going totally down the 'franchising only' option.
It is rumoured that £11.5 million is heading its way to Manchester to study bus franchising, wow, just think of what that could achieve in the 'real world'. May we suggest that it would be better spent on sorting out traffic congestion and if there's any cash left over maybe fill a fill a few million potholes?