Stagecoach has proposed a collaborative approach to help Greater Manchester recover from Covid-19 and accelerate bus use in the region.
The bus and coach operator said an integrated package of joint interventions and investments will not only help Manchester but act as a “trailblazer” for locations across the country.
As part of a two-year programme delivered by the public and private sector, Stagecoach said a combined Partnership Board, chaired by the mayor, should be created to develop bus improvement plans in the Greater Manchester city region.
Stagecoach would accelerate its roll-out of more electric buses and associated depot infrastructure, as well as offer green mobility credits to city car users to incentivise bus use and reduce unnecessary car trips.
Additionally, traffic light works and improved road junctions are proposed to make bus journeys faster in the city centre.
The bus company said its programme would also make buses easier to access. Under the plans, flexible ticket options would be extended to reflect changing travel patterns. Fare types would also be simplified and there would be further integration between bus and tram tickets.
Furthermore, the proposed pilot includes an expansion of Stagecoach’s demand responsive transport solution in Sale and Altrincham with connections to Manchester Airport.
It added that end-to-end journeys could be improved by testing first and last-mile extensions to the bus network using e-bikes and e-scooters in Ordsall, Salford Quays and Media City, with journeys purchased in one transaction. This would also include expanding bus depot facilities to accommodate e-bike and e-scooters.
Stagecoach said this blueprint could be delivered as part of a recovery partnership approach, which is supported by the UK government and involves an agreement between local transport authorities and bus operators.
It explained that ring-fenced funding would focus on passenger improvements, there would be clear objectives for all parties, and the approach would have the flexibility to deliver local solutions to tackle local priorities.
Lee Wasnidge, managing director of Stagecoach Manchester, said: “There is a huge opportunity for the bus to drive a re-energised country coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As the UK government looks to finalise its National Bus Strategy, we believe an innovative package of partnership initiatives in Greater Manchester, one of the most important regions in the country, can show the way to boost bus use across the country.”