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Operators confirmed to run remaining Bee Network

Operators confirmed to run remaining Bee Network

Contracts have been awarded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to operate the final round of Bee Network services in Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and remaining parts of Manchester and Salford from 5 January 2025 – at which point all buses across Greater Manchester will be franchised and under local control.

Currently around 50% of services – in Wigan, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and parts of north Manchester – are franchised Bee Network services.

As the largest area to come under local control, there will be a total of nine franchises (five large and four small) across the south of Greater Manchester, covering 248 different services.

Metroline has been awarded contracts to operate four of the five large franchises. Its parent company ComfortDelGro, is a leading global mobility provider which operates 34,000 buses, taxis and rental vehicles and 210km of rail network in operation and under-development in 12 countries: Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, Ireland, France, Malaysia, Spain, Portugal, Greece and The Netherlands.

Stagecoach has been awarded the contract to operate the fifth large franchise.  Diamond Bus has been awarded contracts to run three of the four small franchises and Go North West the remaining one. All franchises will run services according to Bee Network specification and standards. 

As with phases one and two, the winning bidders for the final phase of franchising provided strong social value plans, linked to the city-region’s Good Employment Charter.

Once part of the Bee Network, customers in the south of Greater Manchester will benefit from a more accountable service, with passengers able to rate their journey, with customer-focused performance targets, including punctuality and reliability of services and levels of customer complaints impacting what operators get paid to run the services.

As part of this final phase, passengers are on course to benefit from another 120 brand new, fully accessible electric buses – with more to follow. 

Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Eamonn Boylan, said: “Awarding the last round of franchised contracts is a major milestone towards delivering the Bee Network. That ambition is central to our devolution journey.

“It’s exciting to think that in around nine months’ time all bus services across the whole of Greater Manchester will be under local control and accountable to the people they serve.

“We look forward to working with the winning bidders over the coming months as we prepare to deliver this positive change for people and businesses in Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and the rest of Manchester and Salford from January next year.”

As with the introduction of Bee Network services in other parts of Greater Manchester, changes are planned from day one that will see more frequent, earlier, and later running services and better connections to first and last tram and train services. These include later trips on the 314 and 325 for train connections at Stockport, earlier trips on the 330 and earlier and later services on the 347 to connect with Metrolink services at Ashton.

These improvements build on those being introduced in the first two phases of bus franchising which are now underway. In phase one areas for example, additional buses are being added on some routes on a 12-month trial basis.  Performance of franchised bus services in phase one is positive, with punctuality consistently tracking above both the non-franchised network and the equivalent to the Bee Network this time last year.


Transport & Logistics – Driving the Industry Forward

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