Greater Manchester is being urged to make the most of late night public transport options and support the city region’s night time economy.
Residents and visitors to are being reminded of the several ways available to them for getting around at night – whether that’s after going out for the evening or travelling to or from work.
The call to ‘get on board’ is being backed by Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord and Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt.
It comes on the back of the reinstatement of later trams on Friday and Saturday nights, with trams now running up to 1am. Trams will also run until 1am on New Year’s Eve to allow revellers to get home.
This complements existing night buses serving the region and the rail service, which sees last trains run between 11pm and midnight Monday to Friday, with some running later on Saturdays.
The night time economy is a major part of Greater Manchester’s economy, with 358,000 people working in jobs or businesses that are significantly active at night.
And as the city region’s trailblazing Bee Network transport system begins to take flight, plans are afoot to make it an even better and safer place to visit or work into the early hours – with more detail to follow in the new year.
This follows the commitment made in the Greater Manchester Night Time Economy Strategy, approved by the Mayor and ten local authority leaders in March 2022.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “The return of later running trams on Friday and Saturday nights is a really positive move towards supporting our night time economy by providing significantly improved travel options.
“The Bee Network has given us the opportunity to really explore what we can do to improve travel options for people who make our night time economy tick – from bar staff and waiters to health and logistics workers.
“We know how important the night time economy is to Greater Manchester and providing better transport for those who do so much to make it a success has to be a priority as we build the network for the future.
“I am excited to see us develop the Bee Network so it works for everyone and this will be another vitally important step in that direction.”
Sacha Lord said: “'When I speak to businesses, operators and workers across our city-region, the one thing they constantly raise with me is the need for public transport to run later.
“The bar worker finishing a shift at 2am should have just as much ease getting home as the office worker finishing at 5pm. It is clear to me if we are to reach our aspirations to be a truly 24-hour night time economy of the type we see across Europe, we need to give people safe, affordable and accessible routes home when the party is over.
“A 24/7 cycle hire scheme, later running buses and trams and capped fares and cheaper tickets represent an important first step on this journey, and I would encourage anybody travelling late at night to look into those options.
“I look forward to working closely with Vernon Everitt, and Transport for Greater Manchester, to develop a business case for later transport and truly unleash the potential of our night time economy.”
The milestone first phase of bus franchising has already ushered in later buses on some routes, better joining them up with the last trains and trams of the day. These include the 471 (Bolton, Bury, Rochdale) 362 (Standish to Wigan) and 582 (Bolton to Leigh) services.
There are also several currently non-franchised night buses operated by Stagecoach and Transdev. These run at least one service between midnight and 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, connecting towns such as Hyde, Ashton and Stockport with the city centre, while others serve parts of Manchester such as East Didsbury and Chorlton.
Affordability is a key element – and bus fares are being kept as low as possible to encourage more people to get on board.
An adult travelling on a bus in Greater Manchester will never pay more than £2 for a single fare, £5 to travel all day by any bus or £21 to travel by any bus for seven days. Joint tram and bus travel is also up to 20% cheaper under the Bee Network with the new AnyBus + tram tickets.
Meanwhile a 24/7 bike hire scheme is also running in parts of Manchester, Trafford and Salford, providing an affordable, convenient and quick way to get around.
TfGM is also about to commence a study to assess what level of rail service is needed to support the growing economy of the city region – including evening service levels to support the night time offer.
And as part of The Bee Network’s commitment to creating a safe and secure network, 30 new TravelSafe Support and Enforcement Officers (TSEOs) are now patrolling franchised bus services, interchanges and bus stations.
Vernon Everitt said there was a real commitment to public transport bolstering the night time economy as the Bee Network develops.
He said: “I welcome the later running of Metrolink on Fridays and Saturdays and, alongside later bus services introduced under the first phase of bus franchising, it marks the start of a renewed focus on providing safe night time travel.
“Working with Sacha, we will be looking to expand these options as the Bee Network grows, delivering an integrated network with trams, trains, buses and active travel options all joining up to ensure people get home safely after a night out or late shift.
“We’ll also be looking hard at how we make transport options to and from big events much better for everyone.”