Do you take the bus to get to work, to the shops, or to visit friends and family? Many of us do, and buses keep our towns moving, employment accessible, and recreationals services accessible to everyone. Yet since privatisation in the 1980s fares have gone up, and thousands of bus routes have been cut, leaving passengers stranded.
That is why Liberal Democrats are supportive of the Greater Manchester Mayor taking over responsibility for running the bus services across the metropolis. However, the services have to meet local needs, and run efficiently, and right now they are not.
Bringing the busses back into the control of the Greater Manchester Mayor should mean we get lower prices and lower costs of running the service as we are not paying shareholder dividends any more, and local control of the service, meaning we should get the busses we need.
However, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has not gotten off to a good start despite having 12 UK other local councils to look to as examples of how bus services are already being run by councils and mayors. Indeed the publicly owned bus services in Edinburgh, Nottingham, and Reading, together with the continued bus services in Greater London, all provide blueprints that could have been used in developing the services here in Greater Manchester.
The key thing that busses should do is provide a regular service from where you are to where you want to be, and yet we still see three busses arriving within minutes of each other, then nothing for an hour, or worse still nothing arriving at all. This simply isn't good enough.
The biggest problem though for those of us in Heywood who are dependent on Public Transport is the hour and a half to two hours it can take to get from Heywood to the City Centre. The Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester keeps promising us a Tram-Train between Heywood and Castleton, which will speed up commuting times from our town to the City Centre, but this won't happen for 10 years. This is not only too long to wait, but when it arrives it threatens the future of the East Lancs Railway.
Until the tram comes, if it comes, people here in Heywood continue to suffer a public transport service that when operating at its best takes over an hour and a half each way, and is crowded with the children from two local colleges during peak hours in the morning. Our township deserves better. We need a direct bus into the City Centre straight down Manchester Road so that people aren't spending 3 hours every day on the bus to get to and from a decent job in the city, or to go to use the leisure and entertainment facilities.
We need a direct bus today, but again the Mayor of Greater Manchester has said that there will be no changes to the services until he has brought all the bus services in Greater Manchester into public control in January 2025, which means at least another year and a quarter of unnecessarily long journeys until he starts looking at whether to improve local services here.
Heywood should not have to wait another 15 months before the Greater Manchester Mayor will consider putting on a bus that has been missing from our lives for too long. The local Liberal Democrats are calling for the reinstatement of an express sevice from Norden, through Heywood and Hopwood and then direct down Manchester Road and into the City Centre immediately.
Please sign our petition to the Mayor of Greater Manchester if you agree with us.
The daily journey between Norden, Heywood and Manchester currently takes over an hour and a half each way on a crowded bus that doubles as a school bus for two large secondary schools. An express bus is needed during the rush hour that travels direct from Heywood to the City Centre and back to enable local people in Heywood to get to work in good time.