The first tranche of Manchester franchising has commenced, with Go North West taking over the Bolton operation from incumbents Vision Bus and Rotala. New timetables and buses have hit the streets and I wonder what effect this has had on the travelling public. It’s been on national news, stating that the mayor is hoping it will make buses cheaper and more reliable.
There are two ways to make buses cheaper. The most obvious is that if more people are persuaded to travel, the price per head will decrease as economies of scale kick in.
Another way of making them cheaper is to subsidise them, which is what Rishi’s £2 fare scheme has done. This was due to rise to £2.50 from November 1, but will now stay at £2 through to the end of 2024, giving ample time to see the effect on ridership.
This comes from the public purse, where the competition for funding is intense. The second aim was to improve reliability. There are many who say buses aren’t reliable, but as an observer, as well as an operator, I refute this claim. As operators, we plan to cover all scheduled mileage – no one plans a timetable knowing that it can’t be achieved. However, many factors, lots of which are out of our control, undermine this plan.