Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has launched a new Bee Network ticketing app as it prepares for the first franchised bus services in the city-region to take to the roads.
The launch of the new app on 18th September comes one week before the first locally-controlled bus services in the city-region to begin operating. From Sunday 24th September, the first Bee Network bus services will commence in parts of Greater Manchester, bringing services under public control for the first time since bus deregulation in 1986.
The new Bee Network app aims to provide real time bus, tram and train travel information in a single location for the first time. The app can also be used to purchase some Metrolink tickets, with bus and combined bus and tram tickets going live from 24th September. Future functionality planned for the app is also expected to include journey planning tools. While Bee Network bus services are not expected to be rolled out in Stockport, Tameside and parts of South Manchester until the end of 2024, the app will be able to be used to purchase tickets for travel across the network.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:
“This is a real milestone for the Bee Network coming less than a week before the first phase of bus franchising begins.
“It’s a taste of how, under this new system, customers will have a much better travelling experience, with their wants and needs coming first and foremost at all times.
“Our new app and website bring passenger travel in Greater Manchester firmly into the 21st century, with timetables, tickets and live updates literally at people’s fingertips.”
The app will also for the first time give passengers the ability to provide feedback to TfGM on their journey as part of plans to improve customer experience on public transport. Passenger feedback from the Rate Your Journey feature will be key to making bus services accountable to the travelling public in Greater Manchester for the first time in decades. Operator contracts to run services, including how much they are paid, will be linked to customer-focused performance targets around punctuality, reliability of services and levels of customer complaints.
Changes to timetables are also planned to make multi-modal journeys via bus, tram and train more straightforward.
24th September will also see 50 new zero-emission, Bee Network-branded buses come into service, featuring customer improvements for those with additional accessibility needs, including two bays for wheelchair users, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems and anti-slip flooring. 30 new TravelSafe Support and Enforcement Officers (TSEOs) will be patrolling franchised bus services, interchanges and bus stations to improve passenger safety on public transport.
Norman Baker from the charity Campaign for Better Transport, commented:
“Greater Manchester’s groundbreaking Bee Network will be the first integrated transport system of its kind in 40 years.
“It’s fantastic to see how this will benefit Manchester, beginning with the first phase of Bee buses being brought under local control, while the network’s new app and website will make planning and paying for journeys simple and seamless.”
Vernon Everitt, Greater Manchester Transport Commissioner, said:
“The new Bee Network, alongside the first phase releases of a new app and website and an integrated contact centre, will help us to usher in a new era of joined up public transport and active travel in the region.
“Better transport will help grow the region’s economy and productivity, delivering new homes, jobs and inclusivity.
“The Rate Your Journey facility on the app will allow passengers to have their say directly to us and bus operators, bringing sharper accountability for services and shaping further improvements to the Bee Network.
“All buses will be franchised by January 2025, enabling full ‘tap and go’ integrated ticketing across Metrolink and buses. We are also working with the rail industry to begin bringing tap and go payment to the region’s rail network in 2025 as part of fully joining up all public transport services and cycle hire.”