First Bus Manchester buys local for Bee Network in £2.3m deal

Strata Plus bus

First Bus Manchester is buying locally as it begins to build preparations for running Rochdale bus services as part of the new Bee Network from March next year.

The bus operator, together with Transport for Greater Manchester, has selected Rochdale manufacturer Mellor with an order for 17 of its Strata Plus single-decker buses.

Mike Watson, the First Bus Manchester director leading the mobilisation of its plans for Rochdale, said: “We look forward to seeing the first vehicles coming off the production line.

“This also supports high-skilled jobs locally and regionally. As we begin to invest in the Rochdale area First Bus Manchester is determined to help build the economy and link key communities.”

The Strata Plus features include audio visual next stop technology, USB charging points and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The order represents a total investment of more than £2.3m through the TfGM franchising process.

Richard Matthews, UK sales director for Mellor, said: “Mellor’s unwavering commitment to engineering excellence, sustainability and accessibility positions us as a perfect fit for driving forward Greater Manchester’s Bus Strategy.

“Not only are we proud to be serving our local community with our reliable, low-emission buses, but we are delighted to see investment from our own city region back into the local area.

“We do believe that the North West, with its manufacturing heritage and tech innovation sectors, has the potential to be a hub for sustainable transport and specialist vehicle technology.”

Vernon Everitt, transport commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “I am very pleased that First Bus has chosen to work with a local manufacturer to boost our burgeoning fleet of state-of-the-art Bee Network buses.

“This investment in more buses equipped with audio-visual announcements and Wi-Fi connectivity is just another demonstration of how committed we are to providing a truly integrated and accessible public transport network for the people of Greater Manchester.”

Mike Watson added: “These buses are fitted with the latest on-board features to provide connectivity on the move, better journey information while travelling and greater comfort. This will give customers a great travel experience as we play our part in developing the Bee Network across Greater Manchester.”