First yellow Bee Network buses hit the streets of Greater Manchester
It will mark the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years
Greater Manchester’s first new yellow bee network buses have now taken to the streets.
They hit the road on Friday March 24th, six months before the Bee Network will finally launch. The first publicly controlled buses will be rolled out in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Bury and Salford from September, with the whole network to be franchised by 2025.
The move will mean fares, routes and standards will be controlled by local leaders rather than private bus companies — who will have to bid for contracts to run services. Operators will also be penalised if buses are regularly late or don’t show up.
When franchising is introduced in September, there will be 50 brand new electric Bee Network buses, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet, including Vantage buses.
A further 50 electric buses will also be introduced onto the network in March 2024, when the second part of franchising starts. The reveal of the new yellow co-branded bus comes as an order is placed for a further 170 electric buses that will operate in and around Stockport by 2024.
The buses will be jointly funded by Stagecoach and local and national government. Stagecoach’s £37.2m investment will be match-funded by £35.7m from Greater Manchester’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) fund, and a local contribution of £12.5m.
The whole fleet of electric buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems and anti-slip flooring.
Welcoming the early introduction of Bee Network buses, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “Today is a significant day on our journey towards the Bee Network — marking six months until we start to bring buses back under public control for the first time in decades.
“To get ready for the change – and I hope, start to build some excitement – we’re working with Diamond and other operators to introduce co-branded Bee Network buses onto those services that will be amongst the first to come back under local control.
“I am also delighted to announce that by working closely with Stagecoach we will have another 170 brilliant new buses running on our network from next year, with a brand new, world-class electric bus depot.
“This is very much the start of our journey that will ultimately deliver a greener, integrated and more inclusive transport system that will transform how people travel around our city-region.”
Fares will continue to be capped at the same price across Greater Manchester, but could increase above the £2 adult single ticket agreed last September. And a daily cap on buses, trams and rental bikes will be introduced meaning passengers can tap-in and tap-out on all three for a fixed price each day.
Greater Manchester has been awarded £7.5 in Levelling-Up funds to buy land for a leading, state-of-the-art electronic bus depot.
A potential site at Central Park would hold 250 electric buses and provide new, highly skilled jobs now and in the future, supporting ongoing regeneration and helping deliver on Greater Manchester’s ambition for a zero-emission bus fleet by 2032.
TfGM is also looking to take control of existing bus depots by buying or leasing them, before refurbishing and transforming them into modern, high-tech, sustainable facilities.
Transport Commissioner, Vernon Everitt, said: “This preparation of the bus fleet for franchised operation in six months’ time marks a further significant step towards the integrated Bee Network and transformation of public transport and active travel in our growing city-region.
“From September we’ll also have dozens of new, state-of-the-art buses serving passengers in Wigan, Bolton and parts of Salford and Bury.
“These will be the first of many across Greater Manchester that will, alongside the new lower fares – which are already increasing ridership – and improvements to travel information, improve bus travel for everyone who lives and works here.
“All buses will be operating under franchised arrangements by January 2025, which will for the first time enable effective planning of the network alongside Metrolink and active travel facilities. Under the recently announced Trailblazer deal, we will then work towards integration of local rail services into the Bee Network by 2030.”
Other than the colour, buses will remain in operation as they are, with no further changes to take place until September. Until then passengers should continue to contact their operator in the usual way.
Boy, 11, left in critical condition after being hit by police van
Awful news this morning
A boy has been left in critical condition in hospital following an incident with a police van last night.
The 11-year-old was struck by a police van in Lancaster on Thursday night, May 25th, as the van was attending a call.
Lancashire Police say the vehicle was en route to an emergency call when the collision happened.
The boy was crossing Owen Road just before 8:30 pm when he was hit, and was transported to Royal Lancaster Infirmary in a critical condition.
A police spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the child’s loved ones at this time.
“An investigation is underway to establish the full circumstances that led to the collision.
“We have voluntarily referred this matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), as is standard with an incident of this nature.”
The IOPC said in a statement: “We have declared an independent investigation into the actions of Lancashire Police prior to a road traffic collision in Owen Road, Lancaster at around 8.30pm tonight, in which a child has been injured.
“We understand that a marked police van, with its lights and sirens on, was in a collision with an 11-year-old boy.
“We were notified by the force shortly after the collision and declared an investigation at 10.37pm. IOPC investigators are heading to the scene and the police post incident procedure to begin gathering information.”
According to the IOPC, the investigation is in its early stages.
Sam Smith cancels upcoming shows due to ‘vocal cord injury’ and tells fans ‘I’m so sorry’
‘Refunds will be available at point of purchase for all three dates; Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow’
Sam Smith has cancelled their upcoming shows due to a vocal cord injury and issued a statement telling fans, ‘I’m so sorry’.
The singer had to call off their Gloria Tour show, mid-way through, at Manchester AO Arena last night (Wednesday May 24th) after experiencing ‘vocal issues’.
The lights went off and fans waited in darkness for a number of minutes as speculation circulated on social media, with many wondering if there had been a ‘power cut’.
Moments later, after just four songs, a packed-out arena was told the show unfortunately had to be called off.
Afterwards, Sam, 31, issued a statement on their Instagram stories to tell fans — who had missed out on a ‘surprise’ that was supposed to be at the end of the show — how ‘sorry’ they were.
Today, Thursday May 25th, the ‘Unholy’ singer has issued another statement after calling off upcoming gigs.
On their Instagram stories, the star wrote: “Due to vocal issues during last night’s Manchester performance, regrettably we will be cancelling the rescheduled Birmingham and Glasgow Sam Smith shows.
“Refunds will be available at point of purchase for all three dates; Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
“A spokesperson said ‘Doctors have advised due to a vocal cord injury, Sam must have complete vocal rest’.
“Sam is heartbroken to have had to cancel these shows but they have been told by doctors that if they keep singing, they will do permanent damage to their voice.
“If they take some rest they will be able to perform again. I’m so sorry.”
Sam already had to push back the Birmingham and Glasgow gigs after suffering from a virus several weeks ago.
After calling off last night’s show at Manchester’s AO Arena, Sam wrote on their Instagram story: “Today in soundcheck I felt fine and was so excited to give Manchester an amazing show tonight, with a special surprise at the end.
“During my third song, I noticed something wrong with my voice. I prayed it was just my voice waking up for the show but into the fourth song I could feel something was really wrong.”
The pop singer added: “I came off stage and have tried everything to get my voice back in gear but it won’t.
“I am honestly heartbroken I couldn’t finish the show tonight for you all. I love you all. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.”
Body found in river in search for missing 24-year-old woman
Shannon’s family have been informed
A body has been found in a river in the search for a missing woman from Lancashire.
Police searching for Shannon Canning from Lancaster say they have found a body. The 24-year-old had been missing from home since the early hours of Friday May 19th.
A search operation was launched to find the young woman who did not turn up for work at Tipple bar on Friday afternoon.
Public appeals for help were launched by her family and the police force, who said they were concerned for her welfare as the disappearance was out of character.
Lancashire Police have confirmed the body of a woman was found in the River Lune near Halton on Wednesday afternoon, May 24th. Shannon’s family has been informed.
Patrols were increased during the week and specialist divers joined the search yesterday. Officers were called at around 4.20pm Wednesday afternoon when the discovery was made.
A statement from Lancashire Police said: “Sadly, officers searching for missing Shannon Canning have an update, following a body recovered from the River Lune.
“We can confirm that we were called today (May 24th) at around 4:20pm to a report that a body had been found in the River Lune, near Halton.
“Specialist search teams have subsequently attended the area and can sadly confirm that the body of a woman has been recovered.
“Although formal identification has yet to take place, we believe the body to be that of missing Shannon Canning.
“Shannon’s family have been made aware of this sad development and our thoughts are with them at this upsetting time.”