A massive bus driver recruitment campaign has been launched across Greater Manchester to get ready for the Bee Network.
Only a matter of weeks after the first bright yellow Bee Network buses started hitting streets across the region, with more and more being spotted out and about by locals as the days go on, Go North West has today kicked-off Britain’s biggest-ever recruitment campaign for bus drivers ready for the Greater Manchester public transport service to officially launch later this year.
And you might recognise it’s taken inspiration from a certain 80s cult-classic action film for it.
With the Bee Network set to be rolled-out in September, the transport company – which was selected by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) in late 2022 as the winner of its first two bus contracts – has big plans to hire up to 300 new drivers for its ‘Elite Bus Driver Academy’.
Themed as ‘Be an Elite Driver’, with Maverick and the rest Top Gun team serving as some worthy inspiration, the recruitment campaign sees existing Go North West bus drivers all dressed up in fighter pilot-style uniforms in an attempt to “bring to life the prestige of being a driver” and the different types of careers on offer for people.
The recruitment campaign encourages those interested to become “the best of the best”, to find the thing that “makes them awesome”, and to brace themselves for a career with “wheels…that you’ll steer”.
Open both to existing bus driver licence holders and to those who have never sat behind the wheel of a bus before, applicants will undertake a six-week intensive training programme, and will operate routes across Bolton and Wigan – which are the first two areas to be franchised under TfGM and Mayor Andy Burnham’s new integrated London-style vision for local buses.
Bus driver jobs include 20 days’ annual holiday, generous pensions, and pay rates that quickly increase with experience.
Successful applicants will get to earn themselves upwards of £28,000 per year.
Not only that, but Go North West is also going to be offering longer-term apprenticeships that combine studying with hands-on driving to allow people to “earn while they learn”.
Having quadrupled the size of its training team in anticipation of an influx of new recruits, Go North West says it’s “excited” for this new chapter for bus travel in the region.
Speaking on the recruitment campaign’s launch, Nigel Featham – Managing Director of Go North West – said the company is “very proud” to be delivering these bus services for Greater Manchester, adding: “This is a groundbreaking recruitment campaign to match the huge scale of change that we’ll be helping to deliver in Greater Manchester’s public transport.”
“We’ve already had lots of interest in driving the new Bee Network buses and we’re expecting thousands of applications.”
Once the new contracts are underway, Go North West will operate more than 500 buses from Bolton and Wigan, as well as from its existing Queen’s Road depot in central Manchester – with the company’s facility in Bolton being the largest UK bus depot outside London.
Officers have been carrying out searches of people arriving on site this week – and have already arrested a 24-year-old man.
A quantity of pills and a knife were both recovered from the man, who has been arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs and possession of a bladed article.
After the arrest, Superintendent Phil Spurgeon issued a statement to criminals, saying ‘don’t bother coming to Parklife’.
He said: “We have a really robust police and partnership community safety operation for the festival, and the arrest and seizure yesterday demonstrates the vigilance of security staff, our thorough search procedures and our commitment to keeping people safe.
“Make no mistake, illegal items such as weapons and drugs can have fatal consequences. Our top priority this weekend is keeping people safe, and anyone caught trying to take such items into the festival will be robustly dealt with.
“I hope the genuine festival-goers are excited for the fantastic weekend ahead and I am confident the majority will enjoy the event responsibly and safely.”
Greater Manchester Police and Parklife security staff will be working closely together to intercept anyone travelling to the festival with criminal intentions.
The arrest on 8 June was thanks to the festival’s drug detection dogs.
In a formal statement addressing the situation, the city‘s flagship further education institution says some of its systems have been accessed by an “unauthorised party” and that data has “likely been copied” as a result of this.
The University’s in-house experts are said to be “working around the clock” to resolve the issue.
External support teams are also said to be working in collaboration with the University to understand what data has been accessed.
Patrick Hackett – Registrar, Secretary, and Chief Operating Officer at the University of Manchester – explained in a statement issued this morning: “Regrettably, I have to share with you the news that the University is the victim of a cyber incident, [as] it has been confirmed that some of our systems have been accessed by an unauthorised party and data have likely been copied.
“Our in-house experts and established expert external support are working around the clock to resolve this incident, and we are working to understand what data has been accessed”.
Mr Hackett said he understands the nature of the issue will “cause concern to members of our community”, and says the University is “very sorry for this”.
The University says it is also working with relevant authorities – including the Information Commissioner’s Office, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the National Crime Agency, and other regulatory bodies – to resolve the issue, and will provide information to those affected as soon as they are able to.
Students and staff are also be told to be vigilant to any suspicious phishing emails within the coming days – with the University’s IT Services team having published some relevant advice to refer to.