Prominent bus industry entrepreneur Julian Peddle says Transport for Greater Manchester is blocking the flow of government help available to keep vital daytime services running to carry essential workers to hospitals and other establishments.
Peddle, a director of Centrebus-managed High Peak Buses, alleges that TfGM is refusing to talk to operators. He says senior TfGM officials and mayor Andy Burnham have been ‘invisible’ during the coronavirus crisis and that operators understand that TfGM is holding up government aid and demanding a controlling say in what services operate, both now and after the crisis ends, in exchange for this aid.
“The situation in Manchester is different to anywhere else that we operate. Every other local authority has agreed to pass on the aid from central government to help us keep these vital bus services running, but in Manchester they are refusing point blank to help us. I have written to Michael Renshaw, executive director at TfGM, but had no reply.
“And because they are not working with operators, they are still running hundreds of nearly empty tendered services, carrying no one and wasting money. Unless this money is made available in the next day or so, bus cuts will have to be made that are far more severe than would be otherwise needed as operators have insufficient money to pay drivers and buy fuel. At a time of national crisis, TfGM is making the situation ten times worse in Manchester.
Peddle says the Covid 19 crisis has decimated the numbers of bus passengers in Manchester, and nationally. Passenger numbers are less than 15% of a normal weekday and still falling following the government instruction to stay at home.
Buses are running around completely empty under instructions from TfGM. One operator is being ordered to run 27 schoolbuses every day without carrying a single child, another reported that a bus was running for 5hr on Tuesday evening and carried only one passenger in the whole evening. The driver felt threatened by roving gangs of youths in the Wythenshawe area.
We have approached Transport for Greater Manchester for a reply.