GUIDED busway services to Leigh and Atherton will soon increase to full capacity - thanks to the dedicated campaigning of local councillors and business owners.

Following the completion of the Guided Busway in 2016, many businesses in Leigh, Atherton, and Tyldesley benefitted from the V1 and V2 services transporting commuters to and from Manchester with ease.

However, as the service was cut back during the pandemic, many residents complained of overcrowded buses and being stranded at bus stops.

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Leigh Journal: Many residents complained about the V1 and V2 service as it was cut backMany residents complained about the V1 and V2 service as it was cut back (Image: TfGM)

As the V2 service shrank into a shuttle service in Atherton, this particularly impacted Market Street businesses that were attracting customers from Manchester and surrounding areas.

A petition of more than 1,700 to "drastically improve" the V1 and V2 service fell on deaf ears last year, yet councillors and business owners continued to campaign for the busway's improvement.

Leigh Journal: Business owners felt the impact of a scaled back V2 service in AthertonBusiness owners felt the impact of a scaled back V2 service in Atherton (Image: LDRS)

As Greater Manchester Combined Authority plans to bring buses under local control for the first time in almost 40 years, under the 'Bee Network', the busway concerns have finally been addressed.

With routes and fares to be set at a local level under the Bee Network, the frequency of buses will be increased across the region and they will be run earlier and later to integrate better with train and tram services.

In Leigh and Atherton, it has been confirmed that the frequency of the V1 and V2 services on the Guided Busway will increase to eight buses in each direction every hour, while the V2 route to Manchester Royal Infirmary will also be reinstated.

After the bus plans were announced on Thursday, August 24, Debra Wailes, Labour councillor for Atherton South & Lilford described the move as a "real community game changer".

Independent councillor for Atherton North, Stuart Gerrard, added: "It's fantastic news that the V2 will be returning to full service on the commencement of franchising.

"Since the reduction in services, all councillors from both wards have been campaigning hard in unison to get this service returned. The economic benefits this will bring to Atherton shouldn't be underestimated."

Leigh Journal: Thee Bee Network will launch from September 24Thee Bee Network will launch from September 24 (Image: TfGM)

Following the introduction of franchised bus services on Sunday, September 24, the Bee Network aims to make buses more efficient and effective than the current deregulated market, with adult single fares remaining at £2.

Electric buses and fifty zero-emission vehicles will also be introduced into the network to assist with Greater Manchester's carbon net-zero goals.

Leigh Journal: Andy Burnham announced his plans for the Bee NetworkAndy Burnham announced his plans for the Bee Network (Image: TfGM)

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “It’s now just one month until we start to bring buses back under local control. With cheaper fares, new electric buses, earlier and later running services and improved customer information, people really will be better off with the Bee Network.

“We’ve reached an exciting moment on our journey to improve how people can travel across the city-region. It was great to see our striking fleet of 50 new electric, yellow buses here in Greater Manchester, with the final touches now being applied before they start operating next month.

“The final countdown to the start of the Bee Network is well and truly on.”