As franchising arrives in Greater Manchester, JAMES DAY hears from Transport for Greater Manchester and reports from the Public Transport in the North conference, featuring mayor Andy Burnham and Go North West’s Nigel Featham, as the Bee Network launches with an air of positivity.

BYD / Alexander Dennis Enviro400EVs at Bryn depot near Wigan on September 5, 2023. AT the time, Stagecoach still had control of the depot, and it was awaiting handover to Go North West.

On September 24, Greater Manchester saw the most significant change to its bus network since 1986 when the first stage of its new franchising system went live. The Bee Network is to be established in three tranches, gradually transitioning away from the deregulated market. Each tranche put out a mix of small and large franchise contracts, which operators bid for. The first of these, the services which went live on September 24, included Wigan, Bolton and parts of Salford and Bury. The two large franchises of Bolton and Wigan were awarded to Go North West, while seven smaller franchises were all claimed by Rotala-owned Diamond North West. In addition to this, many school services within the Bee Network went live in early September, which Stagecoach was involved with.

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