Judge backs Greater Manchester bus franchising

The giant Stagecoach Group has failed in its attempt to block plans for bus franchising in Greater Manchester.

In a High Court judgement handed down on Wednesday, Mr Justice Knowles ruled that mayor Andy Burnham's decision and the process by which the Greater Manchester Combined Authority came to recommend a franchising scheme was lawful.

Mr Burnham said: 'This is truly fantastic news for everyone outside London who wishes to see a return to a bus service that puts people ahead of profit. We were always confident that GMCA had followed all correct legal processes and that the decision to franchise buses and bring them under public control was lawful and right.'

He asked Stagecoach and bus operator Rotala, which was also part of the legal challenge, to 'accept the clear ruling and allow us to crack on and give the people of Greater Manchester what they want – an integrated, accessible and affordable London-style transport system joining together buses, trams, cycling and walking; the Bee Network'.

He added: 'I want to work with the operators and the Government to create the bus network that GM needs over the next few years and I will give a more detailed update on how and when we will implement franchising on Monday.

'This ruling is a green light for the North to retake control of its bus and public transport system.'

We Own It, which campaigns for public ownership of services, said: ‘Today’s ruling is a massive victory and could be life-changing for many communities across the country, not just in Greater Manchester. 

‘For the first time in over 35 years, a bus network outside London will be integrated and planned for the benefit of local people, not distant shareholders.

‘That means simple tickets you can trust to give you value for money. It means more routes to help end social isolation and boost local businesses. And it means powers to make buses more reliable, helping to end those frightening night time waits at dark bus stops.

‘With Manchester setting the pace, now is the time for the leaders of other regions to put their foot on the accelerator and drive forward better buses too.’

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