Several bus routes will be re-numbered in Bolton, Wigan, Bury, and Rochdale as part of Bee Network changes.

Transport for Greater Manchester says the changes will make things simpler and "more consistent", with different operators currently using the same number for different routes.

For example, the current "7" route from Bolton to Wigan shares its number with a route from Ashton-under-Lyne to Stockport.

Two routes share the number "8’", as well: Bolton to Manchester city centre, and Wigan to Leigh – potentially creating confusion for those not used to the system.

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A Transport for Greater Manchester spokesperson said: “Bringing bus services under local control as part of the Bee Network provides an opportunity to make it easier for people to use public transport. That includes providing a clear and consistent approach to bus service numbers.

“Most bus service numbers will stay the same. Some services in Bolton, Wigan and Salford are being renumbered on April 7, 2024.

“For bus services joining the second phase of the Bee Network in Oldham, Rochdale, and parts of Bury, Salford and north Manchester, several services will be renumbered ready the first day of service on March 24, 2024.

“Customers will be updated in advance of these changes at bus stops, through leaflets at bus stations, on Bee Network buses and other outlets, including TravelShops.

“Customers also check website or call customer contact centre.”

In the Manchester Bee Network Staff, Enthusiasts and Fans Facebook group, commenters had mixed reactions.

Thom Black wrote: “Excellent news. Less confusing numbers, bring back more of this! The fact that there were two number 8 and 10 buses within TfGM was very silly and the change never needed to happen in the first place.”

Bus user Cristiano Barbaria, however, positively remembered the change to the current route numbers.

They wrote: “What’s the point in this? From a passenger point of view this was one of the best changes to come to Wigan routes as it much simplified our lives.”

Matt J Poulter commented: “Sad about the 362, it's been that number for generations.”

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List of changes from April 7

From April 7, 2024, a number of Bee Network routes will change.

  • 1: Wigan Highfield – Grange Circular becomes 601.
  • 2: Wigan Highfield – Grange Circular becomes 602.
  • 3: Wigan – Kit Green Circular becomes 603.
  • 4: Wigan – Kit Green Circular becomes 604.
  • 5: Wigan – Beech Hill Circular becomes 605.
  • 6: Wigan – Beech Hill Circular becomes 606.
  • 7: Bolton – Wigan becomes 607.
  • 8: Leigh – Wigan becomes 608.
  • 9: Higher Folds – Wigan becomes 609.
  • 10: Leigh-Wigan becomes 610.
  • 10A: Wigan-Leigh becomes 611.
  • 129: Higher Green – Boothstown – Farnworth becomes 553.
  • 362: Chorley-Wigan becomes 632.
  • 590: Leigh – Lowton Circular becomes 589.

Changes from March 24

Other services yet to become parts of the Bee Network will also change from March 24 – the day they join the Bee Network.

  • 6: Rochdale – Queensway – Kirkholt circular becomes 406.
  • B1: Bury - Summerseat - Peel Brow – Ramsbottom becomes 477.
  • B2: Bury - Limefield – Nangreaves becomes 487.
  • B3: Bury – Ferngrove - Heywood – Nordon becomes 433.
  • B4: Heywood - Heap Bridge – Bury becomes 475.
  • R1: Rochdale - Rochdale Infirmary – Syke becomes 440.
  • R2: Rochdale - Shawfield Circular becomes 461.
  • R3: Wallbank – Rochdale becomes 447.
  • R4: Rochdale - Peppermint Bridge – Rochdale becomes 451.
  • R6: Rochdale - Peppermint Bridge – Rochdale becomes 450.
  • R7: Rochdale - Kirkholt - Castleton – Middleton becomes 434.
  • R8: Rochdale - Bamford – Norden becomes 442.
  • R9: Rochdale - Milnrow - Buckstones - High Crompton – Rochdale becomes 435.
  • R10: Rochdale - High Crompton - Buckstones - Milnrow – Rochdale becomes 436.
  • R11: Rochdale – Lane Head becomes 437.

What is 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.  

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