The first bright yellow Bee Network bus has hit the streets of Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester residents will soon start to see bright yellow double decker buses travelling the region’s streets in the coming weeks.
With exactly six months to go before Greater Manchester “brings buses back under local control”, Mayor Andy Burnham has joined a number of other local leaders in unveiling the brand-new ‘Bee Network’ co-branded buses.
In what marks the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years, according to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), bus operator Diamond – which currently runs services in Bolton – has teamed up with Go North West to run the first franchised services in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury from September this year.
Diamond has agreed to start transforming their buses into Bee Network ones from this week, with more set to appear on the roads every month.
The first bright yellow double decker bus has now hit the streets of Bolton, and is serving the number 8 route – which connects Bolton and Manchester city centre via Farnworth and Salford.
As already announced by TfGM and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), when franchising is officially introduced on 24 September 2023, 50 brand-new electric Bee Network buses will hit the streets on day one, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles, and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet.
A further 50 electric buses will then be introduced onto the network in March 2024, which is when the second part of franchising starts.
All of the 270 new electric Bee Network buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems, and anti-slip flooring.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the first Bee Network bus entering service is “very much the start of our journey”, and added that the scheme will “ultimately deliver a greener, integrated and more inclusive transport system that will transform how people travel around our city-region.”
Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt also called the first bus’s introduction onto the streets as “a further significant step” towards the integration of the Bee Network and the “transformation” of public transport and active travel in the region.
He continued: “From September we’ll also have dozens of new state-of-the-art buses serving passengers in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury.
“These will be the first of many across Greater Manchester that will, alongside the new lower fares – which are already increasing ridership – and improvements to travel information, improve bus travel for everyone who lives and works here.”
Featured Image – TfGM
Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone cameras are now being used for ‘detecting crime’
Cameras installed for Greater Manchester’s now-discarded Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme are apparently being used for “detecting crime”.
A total of 407 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras were installed across the region back in February 2022 ready for the start of the controversial £60 million scheme that never happened – but now, councillors in Bolton have revealed that the technology isn’t going to waste, and is actually being for an entirely different reason all together.
After Horwich councillor David Grant “raised concerns” about the cost of running the cameras at recent Bolton Council meeting, leader Martyn Cox revealed that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been closely controlling them and using them “to good effect in detecting crime”, according to BBC Manchester.
“Now that the Mayor of Greater Manchester has graciously confirmed that the area of Bolton will most like not be subject to any clean air zone can the leader confirm that he intends to demand that the presumably now defunct cameras be removed?,” Mr Grant asked at the meeting.
He continued: “Secondly, bearing in mind these cameras are live and drawing electricity from our street furniture, will he be requesting a payment for electricity estimated Greater Manchester wide at £375,000 a month?”
Council leader David Cox then explained to Mr Grant that information from the cameras released in line with data protection legislation has been used to support at least two murder investigations, one high risk missing person case, one county lines drug supply case, two separate fatal road traffic collisions, and an aggravated burglary.
“However, it is acknowledged that there are concerns around the use of number plate recognition cameras and allowing direct access to the cameras to organisations such as Greater Manchester Police when these are no longer required for a charging clean air zone,” Mr Cox continued.
“There is a commitment to undertake public consultation on the future use of cameras once we have a decision from central government on the investment led clean air plan.”
The Clean Air Zone was to initially hand motorists daily charges of up to £60 for some of the most polluting vehicles on Greater Manchester‘s roads.
The government agreed to delay the deadline for the scheme until 2026, but local leaders wanted to scrap all charges and help to fund vehicle upgrades instead.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) then set out evidence supporting an investment-led, and, crucially for residents and motorists, a non-charging Clean Air Plan back in June 2022 – which it said was “the best solution” to address the roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) problem.