Local bus operator Go North West is marking National Apprenticeship Week by announcing it has welcomed more than 40 students onto its bus driving apprenticeship programme in just four months.

The bus company, which operates the Weston Street depot in Great Lever, launched the programme in partnership with training provider Realise Training in October.

Anyone with a standard UK driving licence with six or fewer penalty points is eligible to apply to the scheme, as Go North West looks to train hundreds of new bus drivers to operate services across Greater Manchester.

At its Bolton depot, located on Weston Street, the company is aiming to recruit 100 more drivers.

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Apprentice Lauren Jones signed up to the scheme in November.

She had previously held roles within social health care and private transport hire before deciding to try something new.

The 32-year-old, who is based in the company’s Wigan depot, said: “Buses seemed like a progressive next step for me. I love working with people, so it felt right.

“I can genuinely say that I have enjoyed every minute of my journey so far.

“The training was thorough, and my apprenticeship training and development officers are so supportive.

“The team at Go North West have helped me settle in too, they’re a friendly bunch.”

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Lauren was recently awarded the title of ‘Apprentice of the Month’, which recognises excellent work and commitment to the programme.

Those interested in signing up to the scheme can do so at elitebusdriver.co.uk.

Go North West training and recruitment officer Martyn Hillifer added: “Seeing so many new, talented individuals join the programme has been so heartening for us all.

“The scheme has attracted applicants from all walks of life, and it seems people are eager to know more about careers in transport.

“We’re proud to be here to help them develop and achieve their goals.

“And I was delighted to see Lauren’s dedication and fabulous work ethic recognised and rewarded.”

Go North West is now the primary bus operator in Bolton, as the borough became one of the first to be integrated into the new ‘Bee Network’ bus franchising system.

The Bee Network

As part of the new Bee Network, bus routes, timetables and more are controlled by Transport for Greater Manchester from now on in Bolton and Wigan, as well as parts of Salford and Bury.

The Bolton News: A yellow Bee Network busA yellow Bee Network bus (Image: TfGM)

Oldham and Rochdale's buses will come under the system from March 24, 2024, along with the remaining parts of Bury and Salford.

The remaining parts of the city region are set to join the system from January 2025.

After Greater Manchester buses in every borough have been brought under the system, passengers will be able to tap-in and tap-out across all buses and trams without having to decide on a ticket in advance, with fares capped at the “Bee AnyBus + Tram” price, similar to the system which has already been in place in London’s transport system for years, as well as many other major cities across the globe.

The system may even go cashless in the future, with Mr Burnham previously saying there was “an argument both ways” and that a decision had not been taken, before adding that most felt it would be safer and speed up journeys to go cashless.  

If you have a story, I cover the whole borough of Bolton. Please get in touch at jack.fifield@newsquest.co.uk or click to send me a message on WhatsApp or on Signal on 07517566383.