FRANCHISING BONANZA, BUT NOT FOR SMES

COMMENT with JAMES DAY

A Bee Network-branded BYD / Alexander Dennis Enviro400EV (LF24 YZN) at the launch of Tranche 2 of the Greater Manchester’s franchise bus network, which took place at Oldham bus station.
TONY MILES

Any doubt in my mind about the renewed political value of buses has been set aside after this month. With the approaching mayoral elections on May 2, many candidates are talking about bringing buses “back into public control”, or their hesitancy to do so. I was invited to speak on West Midlands radio twice in the same day, and seemed to receive franchising-related news constantly.

It’s difficult to say what the biggest piece of news is, and a case could be made for virtually all of them. There’s Wales, which has snubbed the idea of enhanced partnerships entirely and said franchising is the only route ahead for the whole country (see page 42). Franchising in West Yorkshire has been formally approved, with the first phase expected to go live in June 2026, while South Yorkshire agreed to a formal assessment (see page 8).

Mayoral candidates in the West Midlands and the North East of England have said they would implement it if elected, while discussions have moved further in the West of Scotland, continuing the battle between SPT and McGill’s.

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