The second phase of Greater Manchester’s plans to bring bus services back under public control has taken place over the weekend, bringing bus services in Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Bury, Salford and north Manchester into the Bee Network.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham says passengers will now benefit from new and better buses, with more frequent services which run earlier and later with connections to the Metrolink trams. This connectivity will be vital in improving our region’s productivity and access to opportunities.

Passengers will benefit from the introduction of an additional 50 zero-emission vehicles, as well as more frequent, earlier, and later running services and better connections to first and last trams. A further 30 new TravelSafe Support and Enforcement Officers have also started work across the network, adding to the 30 already employed to boost passenger safety. A night transport pilot will also see bus services run at least every hour connecting Leigh, Bolton, Salford and Manchester on the V1 and 36 routes.

GM Business Board Member and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said “Greater Manchester has a pioneering history when it comes to transport, as the birthplace of buses and the modern railway, so it’s fitting to once again be leading the way by bringing buses back under local control. 

“This truly is another historic moment for Greater Manchester, and I am absolutely delighted to see the Bee Network rolled out to Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Bury, Salford and north Manchester.”  

The Bee Network is Greater Manchester’s plan for an integrated, accessible and affordable ‘London-style’ transport system, which aims to change the way people travel across the city region.

It launched on 24 September 2023 across Wigan, Bolton and parts of Bury and Salford.

The Mayor’s office says Bee Network buses have proven themselves more reliable than previous services, and are outperforming services elsewhere in Greater Manchester.

It published data suggesting that between 1 January and 19 March, 74.30% of Bee Network buses were on time, compared to 67.62% of commercial services and 62.75% for the same period last year prior to franchising.

The number of people using Bee Network services has also increased, the Mayor’s office said.

Between 5 and 18 November average weekday patronage on Bee Network buses was 131,095 and this grew to 138,010 between 3 and 16 March – an increase of 5.27%, with a Bee Network high of 141,720 on the 6 March and more than 17 million journeys so far.

Transport Commissioner for Greater Manchester Vernon Everitt, said: “Bus passengers in Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Salford and north Manchester will see new zero emission buses and an upgraded Bee Network app from day one.

“Transport for Greater Manchester and our bus operators Stagecoach, First Bus and Diamond will then focus on progressively improving the punctuality and reliability of buses.

“They will also act on feedback from passengers who for the first time in almost 40 years have a voice in shaping their local bus services.”

Services in Stockport, as well as Trafford, Tameside and South Manchester will be brought into the Bee Network by January 2025.