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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Ethan Davies

Go North West is out as Stagecoach handed new Bee Network contract

Bosses at Go North West buses have said they are ‘disappointed’ at the decision to strip them of the Queens Road depot as part of a public transport overhaul.

Today (June 23), Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham unveiled the latest developments in the Bee Network transport plan in Rochdale. Included in the update was confirmation that Stagecoach Manchester are taking over the running of the Queens Road, Oldham, and Middleton depots.

It means that staff will have a ‘new employer’, according to Go North West’s Managing Director Nigel Featham. In a letter seen by the M.E.N., he added that the handover to Stagecoach will take place in March of next year.

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“Go North West is deeply disappointed to learn of this decision, especially after turning around the fortunes of the depot over the past four years,” he told staff. “That we managed to do so was only possible thanks to the hard work and commitment of the best workforce it has ever been my pleasure to work with.”

The Evening News understands Go North West ‘focused’ on retaining control of the Queens Road depot, rather than bid for the Oldham and Middleton depots, which were also up for tender. The moves mean that by the end spring 2023, eight boroughs in Greater Manchester will have Bee Network buses.

Starting in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury, services to be operated by Go North West and Diamond from September 24 of this year. Already, some of the striking yellow buses have been spotted in the wild in these areas as new rolling stock comes on to the roads.

From March 24, 2024, the second wave of franchising kicks into gear. Rochdale, Oldham, Bury and parts of Manchester, Salford, and Tameside will all see Bee Network buses.

Diamond is set to operate the ‘small Oldham franchise’ and First has secured ‘Rochdale A and B’.

From then, north Manchester residents will getting on Bee Network buses run by Stagecoach. It means, in all, the firm will operate 87 routes, served by a fleet of 349 buses.

Employees currently working at the operator's Middleton Depot will remain employed by Stagecoach Manchester whilst 947 employees will transfer from the current operators of Queens Road and Oldham Depots.

“To the dedicated staff currently working at the depots that will be operated by Stagecoach, we extend a warm welcome,” Lee Wasnidge, Managing Director of Stagecoach Manchester, said. “We want to assure you that we value your contribution and are committed to ensuring a smooth and positive transition. We will work closely with your current employers to support you throughout this process.”

The next round of tendering for Bee Network routes starts next year, and will come into effect from January 2025.

Go North West has been contacted for comment.

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