THE start of a revolution for buses in Greater Manchester is underway - but how much of an immediate difference will it make for some regular passengers?

Single fares have been capped at £2 for adults and £1 for children while day tickets which can be used on all bus services across the Greater Manchester city-region will only cost £5.

The introduction of a new simplified fare structure comes 12 months before buses are brought back under public control for the first time since the 1980s.

The new franchising system for buses, which will start in Wigan and Bolton next September and be rolled out across the city-region by the end of 2024, will see companies bid for contracts to run routes chosen by local leaders.

Single fares were set to be slashed when the new system comes into force, but the scheme was fast-tracked to help people cope with the cost of living.

Leigh Journal: Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham launches the Get On Board campaign. Credit: LDRS. Caption: Joseph Timan. Permission for use for all LDRS partners.

Mayor Andy Burnham says this is the biggest thing he has done as mayor of Greater Manchester – but he recognises that this is just the first step of the journey.

He hopes that cheaper, simpler fares will encourage people to "get on board".

But for people who already use the bus regularly – many of whom buy weekly tickets which will not be capped – the new fares "won’t make a difference".

And for some passengers, bus fares will rise by up to £4 a week.

Although single fares and day tickets have been capped, some bus operators already charge less on certain services, so prices could increase.

Go North West’s cheapest one-way ticket for adults currently costs £1.50, but from Sunday this will be 10p more while weekly ticket prices will also increase.

An Adult 7-day ticket, which is currently £17.50, will cost £18.50 on the app or £20 on the bus, while a 28-day adult ticket increase rise from £62 to £67.

In contrast, single fares and day tickets for First buses are set to come down thanks to the cap, while weekly tickets bought on the bus will be priced at £18.

The fares on Diamond buses, which increased in March are not expected to rise again on Sunday, but when asked to confirm, the company did not reply.

Stagecoach’s weekly fares are also set to rise with some tickets scrapped.

The Manchester 7-day MegaRider, will increase by £1 to £18.50, while the Magic Bus tickets will rise to £4.50 for a DayRider or £11 for a week.

However, the Middleton and Wigan weekly tickets will be scrapped altogether.

This means passengers in Wigan will pay £2.50 more for the Manchester 7-day MegaRider, while those in Middleton will have to pay £4 more per week.

Stagecoach says it is taking steps to simplify its range of tickets and make it easier for people to make unlimited journeys throughout Greater Manchester.

The bus operator claims the new capped fares will also save money for many.

A spokesperson said: “With the introduction of capped fares and the option of Stagecoach flexi day ticket bundles, nine out of 10 customers will either pay less for their bus fare or see the price of their travel frozen.

“We have consistently delivered some of the lowest ticket prices in the country and, with motoring costs accelerating, there has never been a better time to switch to the bus.”

“It’s not just about the fares”

Gary Nolan, chief executive of trade association OneBus which represents bus operators, said the price changes and capped fares coinciding is "coincidental".

The deal with bus operators means that they will be no better or worse off financially from the capped fares because the difference will be subsidised.

He supports the £2 single fares, but says simplifying prices removes choice.

“The idea is to simplify the fares and make it more understandable,” he said.

“Hopefully this means more people will travel on buses

“But it removes a lot of choices people have if they’re regular bus users.”

The former bus conductor who has spent the last 20 years as a director for companies including Stagecoach says slashing single fares should encourage drivers to ditch their cars and ride the bus – but he says this is just the start.

Mayor Andy Burnham says this is just the first step towards the Bee Network, the new London-style public transport system which he wants to create here.

He intends to integrate bus and tram tickets, setting a daily cap on spending.

However, he insists that the lower simpler fare structure for buses which will be introduced from Sunday will benefit many people, including existing users.

“It depends on people’s working patterns,” he said.

“Not everybody works every day.

“There’s a lot of people who are part-time workers who don’t get a weekly [ticket] because they won’t use it for five days.

“So it’s going to benefit people in different ways.”

He also believes that slashing single fares to £2 and day tickets to £5 may give drivers a cheaper alternative than the car as it becomes more costly to run.

Nevertheless, he has asked TfGM to look at whether the multi-operator weekly ticket can be capped at the lowest single-operator offer available.

But until the bus franchising system is in force, and at a time when passenger numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels, there is only so much he can do.

“This is only a step,” he said. “There’s a lot more coming.”