A number of local residents have been in contact with me over the last few weeks to express their concern about the removal of Night Bus services between Manchester City Centre and Bolton.
This follows a number of issues across the town with long established bus routes being withdrawn. I made enquiries with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to ask for further information on the situation.
Most bus services across Greater Manchester are operated by privately owned companies, while TfGM provides a number of additional services that are of benefit to the community but which may not be as profitable for private providers.
The Government have drastically cut the budgets available to the ten Greater Manchester Councils, which in turn has caused a significant cut to TfGM’s budget. In the last two years the budget for supported services has fallen by 20% a cash total of £7.3m a year.
The cuts have led to a reduction in the number of existing supported bus services, and made it much harder to find extra funds for TfGM to intervene when private companies chose to withdraw from certain routes.
Funding for Night Buses as a supported service was actually withdrawn in October 2014, but First Manchester agreed to continue the 8, 36 and 39 services as commercial operations. I know that many people will be disappointed if these services go completely now that First Manchester have withdrawn.
With no late night train services from Manchester and no buses local residents will find themselves unable to stay late in Manchester unless they can afford high taxi fares, stay over until morning, or find a generous friend who can provide a lift.
This continued erosion of our public transport flies in the face of the Government’s claims to be creating a “Northern Powerhouse”. It limits opportunities for local residents in both their work and social lives.
I shall be contacting the Secretary of State for Transport to again lobby for additional support to be given to Bolton’s public transport infrastructure, including funding for supported bus services.