Electric bus Bee Network expands across Greater Manchester

Half of all buses in Greater Manchester now under local control as Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Bury, Salford and north Manchester join up. 

The Bee Network aims to offer an integrated, accessible and affordable system of public transport across the Manchester region, in the style of the successful model seen in London. The network launched in September last year, its first phase covering Bolton, Wigan and parts of Bury and Salford. Now that’s been extended to Oldham, meaning that half the buses in Greater Manchester are under local control. 

Bee Network sign on a bus, photo courtesy of Oldham Council

Bee Network sign on a bus, photo courtesy of Oldham Council

There’s some impressive tech behind by the network, with the introduction of 50 new zero-emission buses and 84 buses compliant with the new Euro 6 standard. That will help efforts to improve air quality in the region – with health benefits for everyone.

Passengers can also take advantage of the new and simple-to-use AnyBus + Tram ticketing system. What’s more, the Bee Network will offer a more frequent service, extended operating hours and better connections across the region. 

Weekly data already shows that the Bee Network outperforms services elsewhere in Greater Manchester. For example, between January 1 and March 19 this year, 74.3% of Bee Network buses were on time compared to 67.6% of commercial services (and 62.8% for the same period last year, prior to franchising). This more reliable service may explain why the numbers of people using the Bee Network have continued to rise, with 141,720 people taking journeys on March 6 alone, and some 17m journeys made on the network so far. 

By January 2025, all buses in Greater Manchester will be under local control, as part of an initiative headed by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).  

Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, says: ‘Joining the Bee Network is a big step forward for us. It’s going to make our buses better in lots of ways. Plus, it fits right in with our big plans to make Oldham a better place, starting with the changes at Spindles Shopping Centre. We’re all about making travel easier, safer, and better for the environment for everyone in our community.’ 

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, adds: ‘We have a great and pioneering history when it comes to transport, as the birthplace of buses and the modern railway, so it’s fitting to once again be leading the way by bringing buses back under local control. 

‘It’s clear from the performance data we’re getting and the growing numbers of people using the Bee Network that we’re making a real difference, but we are by no means complacent – in fact quite the opposite. As we start this next exciting phase and look ahead to all buses coming under local control, I want to be clear that we want things to be better still and have an unwavering focus to deliver a Bee Network that works for you.’ 

In related news:

Kites flown by robots to measure emissions

£6m self-driving bus serves Sunderland Royal Hospital 

10% improvement in air quality in Bristol due to CAZ 


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