Working with Stagecoach Bus in Greater Manchester

Working with Stagecoach Bus in Greater Manchester

Stagecoach Bus operates 800 buses in Manchester, carrying around 200 million passengers each year. Up to 80% of journeys into Manchester city centre are currently made by bus.

Stagecoach Bus have been experiencing increasing operational problems over the past five years. Congestion levels have increased due to traffic growth and bus average journey speeds have reduced by 14%. This has led to reduced levels of bus punctuality, with passengers losing confidence in service reliability. As a result user numbers have reduced by 3% since 2015/16.

Greater Manchester has one of Europe’s most congested road networks. 2016 data shows that Manchester is now the UK’s third most congested city, up from fifth place in 2015. Stagecoach has needed to increase their resources by extending journey and recovery times to maintain service levels. There is a clear pattern of congestion-impacted performance, where punctuality levels collapse during the busiest peak periods.

Stagecoach commissioned Project Centre to analyse the performance of their services over time. They requested that we identify hotspots on key corridors and then develop ideas for bus priority measures, or simple changes to traffic management that could help bus operations.

Our team identified potential for a significant programme of measures to improve bus priority, through a combination of bus priority measures, or through more general congestion management. We recommended a wide variety of improvements at 40 locations across the routes, demonstrating that there is a considerable range of improvements that could be considered and; that there is a need for a package approach to bus priority informed by bespoke data analyses and stakeholder led (operator) consultation.

Our work was presented to Transport for Greater Manchester and is being used to inform discussions with Manchester’s newly elected mayor.