Bus Industry News, International

Go Ahead wins $720m contracts to operate Manchester Bee Network buses

Kinetic says the recently acquired Go Ahead will now run bus routes in Manchester as it continues its UK expansion

The Go Ahead Group has won two new competitive bus contracts under the ownership of Kinetic-Globalvia.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has awarded Go Ahead two contracts as part of its plan to re-regulate bus services in the city region under its new Bee Network.

Go Ahead’s Go North West operating company beat competition from eight other operators bidding to run bus routes in both Wigan and Bolton from September 17, 2023. TfGM are due to announce a further eight franchise contracts by early 2024, with the full network up and running from January 2025.

The buses will be part of Manchester’s new Bee Network, which will have a common brand and integrated ticketing across the city’s public transport. Under the deal, Go North West will run 55 routes to the north and west of Manchester.

The Go Ahead Group has been operating in Manchester since 2019, with a network of buses operating across Greater Manchester and Salford out of the Queens Road depot.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham says: “Locally controlled bus services are fundamental to our Bee Network vision for a better public transport network for all, and as the first area to do this outside London, Greater Manchester is once again blazing a trail.”

“Franchising will enable us to better integrate services as part of a joined-up network, with simpler fares and ticketing, a price cap so no one pays more than they need to, a better customer service offer and a single look for the whole network.    

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 “The move to franchising is the biggest change to public transport for almost 40 years and today is a significant step on our journey as we appoint operators to run the very first franchised services from September next year and I am especially pleased that both operators provided strong social value plans, with commitments around recruitment and pay in line with the city-region’s Good Employment Charter.”

“We are very aware of the significance of these awards and look forward to working closely with TfGM to deliver best in class bus transport in Wigan and Bolton from day one,” Go North West managing director Nigel Featham says.


“We’re delighted to be the first bus operator contracted to run services for Manchester’s new Bee Network. We’ve got an exceptional team at Go North West and we’re very proud of the level of service we provide to passengers.”

Under a strategy called The Next Billion Journeys published in early 2022, Go Ahead set out plans to grow in the UK regional bus market.

Go Ahead is already the largest operator in London’s franchised bus market, running a quarter of bus services on behalf of Transport for London.

Go Ahead chief executive says Christian Schreyer says: “Operating public transport in busy urban areas is Go-Ahead’s speciality.”

“We believe bus travel is going to get more popular over the years ahead as cities around the world grapple with twin challenges of congestion and pollution. We’re pleased to be working with TfGM to deliver Manchester’s vision for the future of local transport.”

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