Saturday 23 September 2023

Bee Network Buses Will Start Running in Parts of Greater Manchester From 24 September 2023

For the first time in 40 years, tomorrow, bus services will be under local control in Bolton, Wigan, and parts of Bury, Salford and Manchester.

Go North West subsidiary readies to begin operating the first two large local service contracts in the Greater Manchester area on 24 September.

Go North West will take on depots in Bolton and Wigan, along with staff from six “incumbent bus brands” and vehicles, and drivers who are new to the industry. 

Greater Manchester's old and new bus brands (Image: Go Ahead)

The two contracts capture 50 routes and over 320 buses, of which 50 of the latter are BYD Alexander Dennis Enviro400EV battery-electric double-deckers ordered by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

Go Ahead press release states

The Go-Ahead Group is making final preparations to run Manchester’s first Bee Network buses this weekend, with services due to begin on Sunday on 50 routes in Bolton and Wigan.

More than 1,000 colleagues at Go-Ahead’s Go North West operating company are involved in a team effort to run the yellow-branded buses, which mark the start of Transport for Greater Manchester’s Bee Network – which will be an integrated system bringing together all modes of local transport.

Mobilisation efforts have been underway for 10 months since the award of a contract to Go North West by TfGM. Go North West is taking over two depots from outgoing operators and buses will be swapped out, with fully trained new drivers in place, overnight.

Bee Network buses will replace Manchester’s six incumbent bus brands over the next 18 months, providing a joined up network for passengers. This weekend is the first of three phases in which buses across Greater Manchester will go yellow. Six liveries from legacy bus companies will eventually disappear.

Of the Bolton and Wigan fleet, 50 buses are zero-emission electric vehicles and all are fully accessible. All the buses on the network are equipped with passenger information screens and space for two wheelchairs, plus CCTV and two-way radios for security.

Go-Ahead brings expertise in franchised bus services from its track record as London’s largest bus operator, running a quarter of buses in the capital. The company also runs buses under contract for transport authorities in Ireland, Sweden and Singapore.

Fares remain £2 for an adult ticket, or £1 for a child.

Nigel Featham, Managing Director, Go North West, said:

“It’s all change for Manchester’s buses and we have a team of over 1,000 people ready to go this weekend. We’ve been working around the clock for months on a mammoth operation – every vehicle, every depot and every driver needs to be ready.

“We are determined to deliver world class public transport for a world class city. Go-Ahead is proud to be working with the Mayor and with Transport for Greater Manchester over this exciting changeover weekend.”

Details of the start of the Bee Buses network here

In March 2024, buses in Oldham, Rochdale, and parts of Bury, Salford and north Manchester will join the Bee Network. By January 2025 all Greater Manchester buses will be under local control.

According to The Bolton News on 19th September "A diesel generator has been delivered to the Bolton depot as precaution. As well as diesel it can be powered by Enhanced Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil, a fossil-free, paraffinic fuel made from 100 per cent renewable raw materials. It will be in place whilst all equipment has been tested and to safeguard against any power outages which would prevent charging of the new bus fleet" click here to read the article.

Above & below eventually Manchester trams will be incorporated into the Bee network

There’ll be a contactless payment trial for some local train journeys in 2025 and local trains will be added to the Bee Network from 2030.