Transport for Greater Manchester reveals plans for the next phase of the Bee Network

Jul 10, 2024 | Uncategorized

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Transport for Greater Manchester has revealed plans for the next phase of delivery of the transformational Bee Network which will see lower fares, expansion of active travel, bus and Metrolink routes as well as bringing national rail under the Bee Network.

The announcement comes as latest figures show that the Bee Network is delivering a more reliable bus service than before they came under local control, with growing numbers of people using them.

The Bee Network launched in Wigan, Bolton and parts of Bury, Salford and Manchester in September last year as Greater Manchester became the first area to bring buses under local control following de-regulation in 1986.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “Nowhere else in the country is delivering a plan as ambitious as here in Greater Manchester, and in Dame Sarah Storey and Vernon Everitt we have two of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in their field to help us on our journey to transform public transport and active travel.

“Safe, affordable and reliable transport – connected together by quality routes for walking, wheeling and cycling – are key to ensuring a healthier, more prosperous city-region.

“With ambitious plans for housing, education and skills we are looking in detail at how we better connect Greater Manchester in the future – both across our towns and cities but also with other parts of the north.

“When we succeed the country succeeds and I look forward to working with this new government to ensure we maximise our role as a leading contributor to sustainable regional and national economic growth.

Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt, said: “Our plan for an integrated transport network is well into its delivery phase and I’m delighted to continue working with the Mayor, the ten local authorities and Active Travel Commissioner to build the Bee Network. 

“Safe, reliable and affordable transport is core to enabling Greater Manchester’s sustainable economic growth and productivity and access to new homes, jobs and opportunity. So the next four years will see further rapid improvements to transport for the people and businesses of the region. This includes completion of bringing together Metrolink, buses, trains and active travel into a joined-up Bee Network, all linked by simple and affordable fares, ticketing and customer information. We will also continue to focus on the safety and security of customers and staff.

“The final phase of bringing buses back under local control will be completed in January 2025 and, working with local communities, Transport for Greater Manchester and our bus operator partners will continuously improve the punctuality of services. As part of a new rapid transit strategy, we are working with the rail industry on a detailed timeline to bring eight local train lines into the Bee Network by 2028 alongside work to further extend the hugely successful Metrolink. Delivery of this plan will further increase ridership, driving up revenue for reinvestment in better services.”

A key part of the Bee Network is walking, wheeling and cycling routes that better connect with buses, trams and trains, with Greater Manchester currently delivering an ambitious plan that would make the city-region home to the country’s largest active travel network. The aim is to put nearly all residents (95%) within 400 metres of a high-quality walking, wheeling and cycling route – with around 115km of the network delivered so far.

Greater Manchester’s Starling Bank bike hire scheme is also improving access to cycles, with more bikes than ever available for hire and over 810k rides made since the scheme launched, and its potential future expansion creates further opportunities for integration with buses, trains and trams to help make active travel the first choice for shorter journeys.

Greater Manchester has also been awarded £3m in ‘capability funding’ from Active Travel England to support the development of schemes and improve access to active travel through initiatives such as bike libraries or community grants. It may also be used to support School Streets, which aims to make it safer to walk, wheel or cycle to school – with Greater Manchester aiming to have 100 schemes in place by 2028. A further £3.8m will enable the delivery of nine more new or improved crossings and junctions across the city-region.

Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner, said: “I’m delighted to be re-appointed as Active Travel Commissioner for the next Mayoral term and look forward to continuing to work with the team and people across Greater Manchester to help deliver the mission to make walking, wheeling and cycling the natural choice for most people’s short journeys in Greater Manchester.

“I remain focused on supporting the roll-out of high-quality walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure, that is accessible for everyone to use, and working with Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt, ensuring it provides seamless links as part of a fully integrated Bee Network.

“We’ve an exciting year ahead as new schemes continue to come through, and it’s more important than ever that key features like safer crossings and segregated cycle routes are built to the best-possible standard.

“It’s been inspiring to meet and hear from children and young people in their communities all of whom tell me how important safer streets are to them – and how many of them would like to travel differently to and from school.

“School Travel is one of my top priorities, and I’m ready to take forward the Mayor’s commitment to establish 100 new School Streets in Greater Manchester by 2028.”


Making travel affordable is a key part of the Bee Network and from January 2025, when all buses will be under local control, bus travel costs will be reduced, with the fares for seven and 28-day travel coming down. Unlimited travel on Bee Network bus services will be £20 for seven-days for an adult and £10 for a child (compared with £21 and £10.50 currently), while 28-day travel will be more than £5 cheaper for adults – coming down from £85.40 (£42.70 child) to £80 (£40 for a child).

The move follows the discounted Anybus + tram ticket – making combined journeys up to 20% cheaper – launched as part of the Bee Network last September, and the introduction of capped bus fares a year earlier. Metrolink fares have also been frozen since 2020.

Customers who currently use more than one bus service to make a single journey will also benefit from a new ‘hopper’ fare in the new year, which will allow them to ‘hop on’ as many Bee Network buses as they like within one hour for the same price as existing single tickets (£2 Adults, £1 Child, £1 Concession (pre 9.30am)).

And, recognising inequalities and high levels of deprivation across Greater Manchester (23% of Greater Manchester is in the lowest decile, indices of multiple deprivation), TfGM is also continuing to work with local Credit Unions on a new annual bus ticket that will be available at a discounted rate through loans, ensuring travel is affordable.


With buses in the south of Greater Manchester joining the Bee Network from January, work is underway on ensuring public transport and active travel continues to support opportunities for growth throughout the rest of this decade and beyond.

Greater Manchester is the country’s fastest growing city region, and home to 2.8 million people (up from 2.5 million in 2000). The Greater Manchester Strategy sets out a plan for 280,000 new residents, 175,000 new homes and 100,000 new jobs. However, like other UK cities, our economy is underperforming compared to similar areas across Europe.

With large clusters of high-value jobs in advanced materials and manufacturing, health innovation, and digital, creative and media, the potential for future growth across Greater Manchester is huge – but to thrive, these high productivity sectors need to be connected to a large pool of highly skilled workers.

Key to this is transport – with the Levelling Up White PaperCentre for Cities research, and the National Infrastructure Assessment all showing that a lack of infrastructure to get large numbers of people quickly to and from the centres of economic activity is limiting the productivity of city-regions, including Greater Manchester.

To ensure the Bee Network can support continued growth and prosperity across Greater Manchester, the north and beyond, a new plan setting out the role of better ‘rapid transit’ (fast, frequent bus, trams or trains that carry large numbers of people) for Greater Manchester has been unveiled.

Map showing proposed new bus, rail and Metrolink stops

Greater Manchester is working with the rail industry – and looks forward to working with the new government – to deliver this transformational change across train services, by bringing eight lines into the Bee Network by 2028, with other lines joining by the end of the decade. A customer-focussed plan, based on Bee Network principles has been developed for rail integration, which will boost ridership and serve as a catalyst for economic growth, including:

  • Service improvements, with a minimum of two trains an hour at all stations where possible
  • New, environmentally friendly trains, with improved on-board facilities and better accessibility
  • More fully accessible stations across Greater Manchester
  • Integrated fares, clear Bee Network branding across trains and stations and better customer information
  • Modern new train stations at Golborne and Cheadle

Beyond the integration of train services, the draft ‘Rapid Transit Strategy’ sets out how TfGM will seek to:

  • Sustain a well-maintained, resilient and reliable system – including continuing to invest in Metrolink renewals
  • Accommodate growth in passenger numbers with a new fleet of next-generation Metrolink vehicles that have tram-train capability
  • Drive growth in passenger numbers by opening new stops and stations, and improving existing ones with access improvements, upgraded facilities and better connections
  • Transform connectivity – with around 15 emerging priorities identified for new, extended and converted lines, including introducing tram-train services to join up the light and heavy rail networks, and the potential for major new tunnelled capacity

Ensuring there is enough space on the region’s buses, trams and trains is essential to support growth and increased demand, with the number of rapid transit trips expected to double by 2040, helping to enable sustainable economic and housing growth and support our city-region’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2038.

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