UK Government Updates Bus Franchising Guidance

The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has updated its bus franchising guidance to incorporate recent policy changes and to reflect Greater Manchester’s experience.

The original bus franchising guidance was first published in 2017 in line with the Bus Services Act. This Act gave new powers to local authorities, enabling them to introduce partnerships or franchising schemes to help improve local bus services.

Recently, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) became the first authority to exercise the powers of the Bus Services Act. Through its Bee Network, the region aims to deliver more effective services, providing a network that is planned and overseen by the local transport authority.

A franchised Bee Network bus in Greater Manchester
A franchised Bee Network bus in Greater Manchester

To reflect Greater Manchester’s experience of working with the legislation in practice, the DfT has now published a revised and updated version of its bus franchising guidance with the aim of simplifying the required processes for future schemes.

The guidance has also been updated in line with the 2021 National Bus Strategy and further policy changes.

The publication focuses on enabling local transit authorities to deliver bus service improvement plans through franchising. It now offers a streamlined assessment process to save time and costs, alongside providing additional advice on the practical processes that Greater Manchester used to meet the legislative requirements. In addition, the guidance clarifies the flexibilities available within the legislation.

The updated bus franchising guidance can be found here.

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