The first Bee Network buses left depots in Bolton and Wigan this morning, marking the start of a new era for public transport in Greater Manchester.
A fleet of 320 buses will operate 50 routes – the first piece in place of a network eventually intended to span buses, trams, trains and bikes across the city.
The mobilisation marked a culmination of months of preparation by a team of 600 people at Go North West, which won the first two contracts to operate Bee Network buses. Go North West’s parent company, The Go-Ahead Group, deployed bus drivers from across the UK to help with this weekend’s launch.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, was at Bolton’s Weston Street bus depot to see off the first bus, along with Christian Schreyer, Chief Executive of The Go-Ahead Group.
Nigel Featham, Managing Director, Go North West, said: “It’s been a real pleasure to welcome the first customers on board our Bee Network buses – the response we’ve had from the public today has been terrific.
“We’ve been preparing for today’s launch for many months and it’s fantastic to see the buses out on the road. This is, of course, only the start of the Bee Network and there is a lot of work still to come. But our goal is to work with the Mayor to deliver world class transport for a world class city, Manchester.”