THE planned night bus trial coming to Greater Manchester WILL go ahead in 2024, the Mayor has confirmed.

Initially, the pilot — given the go ahead by councillors on Thursday (May 21) — will run seven days a week with a bus every hour in each direction for a year, starting with the V1 from Manchester to Leigh and the 36 from Manchester to Bolton.

Andy Burnham says he hopes hourly all-night services on the V1 and 36 buses would start ‘hopefully by the late summer at the latest’.

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It means 135,000 people who live in Salford, Leigh, and Bolton within a quarter of a mile (400m) of a V1 or 36 stop will be able to get to and from the city centre at all hours of the day. However, the Labour Mayor added a day later that was only the start.

“It’s my intention to use that as a starting point to develop a more comprehensive network of services because we are a 24/7 city-region,” he told a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in Oldham.

The pilot will include a ‘review point’, which would ‘focus primarily on supporting people working in the night time economy’ as political leaders say that’s ‘up to a third’ of Greater Manchester’s staff work. That sector has been singled out so the city-region ‘doesn’t become complacent’ in growing its economy.

Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser, explained: “Whilst Greater Manchester’s night time economy is performing better than its comparators, it is crucial that we don’t become complacent and rest on our laurels. Like the businesses and operators who make up the UK’s fifth biggest sector, we need to constantly innovate and look at ways to improve our late night offer.”

The decision also explains why the V1 and 36 were chosen as the routes to start the pilot with, TfGM says, with the routes near ‘key night time economy employment sites, such as hospitals and distribution centres’. “They also serve areas with high numbers of people less likely to own a car and more likely to use public transport, including students,” a statement added.