The Bee Network – Understanding it

In Manchester the mayor Andy Burnham decided in his words to bring the buses back into the public hands. This means that in theory the public transport will be ran for the good of the public. However, there is a few things that the public don’t understand about how the system was ran before and the possible cost of the change to the way the system is ran.

How it was before the Bee Network

Before the Bee Network it was known as TFGM (Travel for Greater Manchester) these were responsible for the spending of the public money on services that were provided by them. There was two types of service work that could be provided by Private companies such as Stotts, Stagecoach, First and a like.

Commercial Service

A Commercial Service is a bus route that has been decided to be ran by a Private company for profit for example the 201 that operates between Manchester Piccadilly and Hattersley runs as a commercial route. The private operator in this case Stagecoach can do pretty much what they want with the service. They can change the timetable and decided what the fares are and how often they are ran. However, they must submit there changes to TFGM. If TFGM decide there is going to be hardship then they might decided to take action. In the short a commercial route must pay its way for the company to see the benefit of running it. The profits made on these routes will normally get put back to some level into the service providing the end customer being the public with new buses and in some cases technology like the latest Next stop information that are new to Manchester.

Tendered Service

A Tendered service is a route that TFGM has decided needs to be operated due to hardship for a community it services. As an example will be the 256 route which runs between Flixton and Manchester. Although this route does operate as a commercial route throughout the day as the evening and Sunday. The route is not finically viable so Stagecoach Cut the service back however, TFGM stands in and decided that the route can not be cut and the community can not be left without a bus service. TO address this they make a tender service which TFGM decide how often it is ran and any fares taken on a tendered route is handed to TFGM. The tendered service is why you could see many operators operating one route for example the 425 during the day it was First Bus but by night it was operated by Stagecoach Manchester. This is because a tendered service comes up on a bidding system and the cheapest operator will get the contract.

Whatever the bid is TFGM will pay the operator that amount to operate that route. If the operator fails to run a service TFGM will fine them for the failure to operator the route, This makes it in the best interest to operate the route as the contract states. School buses are also operated on the same system, TFGM decide on the school buses and operators bid on them cheapest wins. This ensures that a community is not left without a bus service.

So why are some left without?

There is a number of places in Manchester where they are left without a bus service, This is where a private operator has decided that they can’t operate a service on a commercial level leaving it to TFGM to tender a service, But TFGM has decided that the social impact of that area not having a bus service won’t impact the way of living. This is when you will see Data collectors on a service. They are collecting the data of where passengers are going to and from there reason for travel, How often they may use the bus, and the type of pass or ticket they have used. This data helps TFGM decide if the route is one that is socially required to run. If they decide a service must run they will issue a tender, If not they the service will be cut. This due to lack of funds and no one wants there public money spent on an empty bus running about just so Pat might want to go to the shops once a month. Or John who drives might need to use the bus once a year. If the service was coving an area where is was mainly OAPs then they might decide to keep the service. There is a lot that goes into deciding if a service is required or isn’t.

The Bee Network

The bee network is the vision of Andy Burnham the Mayor of Greater Manchester. He wants a London style system as he believes this will be the best way forward to ensure the transport in Manchester is ran for the good of the public and not share holders. This would put all services in the hands of Bee Network as well as the Depots and drivers. This some members of the public believe that this will bring back services to areas that have lost a service, This will not happen areas that have now not got a bus service have already been decided to be not socially viable to run. The best change that came into place so far from the Bee Network was the introduction of the £2 flat fare making paying on the bus much more simple. Speaking of fares the other main point that Andy Burnham was going for was simple one ticket for all buses in Manchester but when he announced this he seem to of forgotten that in Manchester we have the System 1 which became Get Me There. This is a one ticket system that allows you to buy a day, week or Monthly saver ticket. He was saying how the fares were so high but if he simply got TFGM to lower the Get Me There ticket operators would have no choice other than to lower there fares as people would simply buy the Get Me There ticket which many do. Back before this started a Stagecoach bus only day saver was £4 but a AnyBus ticket by Get Me There was only £5.50 so many if they was going to be out all day would just buy the slightly more expensive ticket to be able to get on anybus within Manchester. So this is something we already had but some of the public thing he is introducing something new and it is a brilliant idea.

Under the new system the depots are in control of the Bee Network this now then gives them control over the standard of vehicles used within Manchester so all vehicles should eventually look and have the same specs. This is something that would be good however, most of the vehicles in Manchester are not old vehicles don’t get us wrong we know there is a few older vehicles about but they are few and far in between and slowly being replaced by the operators, This is something that can not be done overnight however due to the cost of buying new vehicles.

The fact that the public believe that this new system within Manchester is going to change things think again, The fact that London have the same system within the TFL and they do not make money in such a busy city to be shows that the system doesn’t work well and why Manchester needs this system is far beyond us. When something works and might just need a slight tweak why change it with a risk of breaking it further.

The level of public transport will only be as great as the public are willing to pay for in simple terms, If we are not willing to pay for it using the public money which comes from every bodies council tax. Currently in 2024 if you pay council tax you are already making a conurbations to the public transport service regardless of if you use the service or not. As this new system takes hold you might find that more and more raises in council tax to fund the system or even as in London they will require a bail out each year which will be most frustrating when there was a system that worked.

This is written on the thoughts of us on the subject and shouldn’t been taken as Facts.

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