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The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham has issued a short statement as bus company Rotala appeals a recent court ruling allowing the city-region to move forward with franchising plans.
Despite a legal challenge by Rotala and Stagecoach, a judicial review in March found that the consultation process surrounding the decision to move forward with reforms of public transport in Greater Manchester was adequate. While Stagecoach, the main bus operator in Stockport and South Manchester, accepted the court ruling, Rotala have sought to appeal the judicial review’s findings.
Rotala has argued that a statutory audit of the pandemic impact report should have been carried out, however GMCA argues that the legislation did not require this, and the statutory audit undertaken on the original assessment was sufficient.
A London-style, integrated public transport network, whereby the local administration sets ticketing regimes and timetables, formed a key tenet of Andy Burnham’s re-election campaign in 2021, and consultations on the proposals secured widespread public approval during the consultation process, but has been strongly opposed by bus companies. More than 12,500 responses were received across the two consultations, with 86% (first consultation) and 82% (second consultation) in support of bus franchising.
GMCA have confirmed that work to deliver bus franchising will continue while it contests the appeal. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:
“Just a few weeks ago the court ruled in our favour on every single point, so we are disappointed that the appeal has been granted on what amounts to a very technical issue.
“Buses are the backbone of our transport network and integral to our plan for the Bee Network, an integrated, London-style transport system for Greater Manchester.
“Our plans have high levels of public support, and we will vigorously contest this appeal.
“We plan to press ahead with our plans to ensure the first franchised services are in place by the 17 September next year and across the whole of the city-region by the end of 2024.”
Following the court’s decision, the timetable to deliver a reformed bus network in Greater Manchester has been brought forward, with Stockport , along with the boroughs of Tameside, Trafford and parts of Salford and Manchester, to see franchised bus services with yellow Bee Network livery rolled-out by the end of 2024, rather than in 2025 as was originally planned.