Leigh-Salford-Manchester Bus Rapid Transit

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Leigh-Salford-Manchester Bus Rapid Transit
Leigh Guided Busway construction 1.JPG
The busway under construction at Cooling Lane, Tyldesley in January 2016
Owner Transport for Greater Manchester
Locale Wigan
Transit type Guided busway and Bus rapid transit
Website www.tfgm.com/buspriority
Began operation 3 April 2016
Operator(s) First Greater Manchester
System length 22 kilometres

The Leigh-Salford-Manchester Bus Rapid Transit scheme in Greater Manchester, England provides transport connections between Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley, Ellenbrook to Manchester city centre via Salford. The guided busway and bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme promoted by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) opened on 3 April 2016. From Leigh, a limited-stop bus service joins 7 km of guided busway to Ellenbrook, 6 km of bus lanes on the East Lancashire Road and sections of reserved bus lanes through Salford and Manchester city centres. The service will extend to the Central Manchester Hospitals on Oxford Road in 2017.[1]


Leigh is one of the largest towns in Britain without a railway station since the closure of the Tyldesley Loopline in 1969 and suffers from poor connections to neighbouring towns. The Leigh-Salford-Manchester guided busway was proposed to improve access to Manchester city centre from Leigh, Tyldesley and Ellenbrook and regenerate areas of the former Lancashire Coalfield. A public inquiry was held in 2002 but the decision was delayed because of great crested newts occupying a site on the route. The Department for Transport granted powers to build the busway in 2005 and it was projected to be built by 2009 but preliminary work only started in 2012.[2] After the public inquiry, a branch bus route from Atherton to Tyldesley and an extension from Manchester city centre to the Central Manchester Hospitals were added to the scheme.

The controversial busway proposal encountered much local opposition.[3] It was branded the 'Misguided Busway' by a Salford councillor.[4] Critics contest claims by TfGM that the creation of within-carriageway bus lanes will not reduce general traffic capacity along the East Lancashire Road, a heavily congested radial route for traffic heading towards Manchester and Salford city centres; but instead increase it.[5] GMPTE estimated that the busway would generate around 2 million passenger trips per annum.[6] Journeys between Leigh and Manchester city centre are timetabled to take 50 minutes at peak times, which TfGM claims is a saving of 30 minutes.[7]

TfGM spent £122 million on bus priority investment of which the guided busway track and infrastructure cost £68 million and the rest was spent upgrading associated local roads, bus lanes and junctions. The Greater Manchester Transport Fund provided most of the funding and the Department for Transport contributed £32.5 million.[8]

Construction timescale[edit]

The busway under construction east of Hough Lane, Tyldesley in January 2014

A long legal process preceded the busway's construction, including a public inquiry in 2002.[9] Powers to build it are set out in the Greater Manchester (Leigh Busway) Order 2005 in the Transport and Works Act.[10]

Site clearance for the dedicated busway section between Leigh and Ellenbrook took place between November 2012 and March 2013.[11] Balfour Beatty began its construction in September 2013.[12] A short section of the busway west of Newearth Road was completed in early 2015 and in the April was used for a trial of the construction method and the bus guidance system. Following delays due to bad weather and other problems, the busway works were rescheduled to be completed before the end of 2015. The service began on 3 April 2016[8] to coordinate with associated road and tram works in Manchester city centre.[13][14]

Route and service[edit]

     Leigh-Salford-Manchester Bus Rapid Transit
Leigh bus station Bus interchange
Leigh The Loom
Leigh East Bond Street – guided section begins
Leigh Holden Road
Leigh Higher Folds/Tyldesley West Cooling Lane
Tyldesley Astley Street Bus interchange
Tyldesley Hough Lane
Tyldesley Sale Lane
Ellenbrook Newearth Road – guided section ends
Boothstown Newearth Road/East Lancs Road – buslane begins
Worsley Walkden Road
Worsley Old Clough Lane
(A580) Park & Ride
Swinton Moorside Road
Swinton Hello Hotel
Swinton Barton Road – buslane ends
Pendleton Church
Pendleton Frederick Road
Salford Crescent station Mainline rail interchange
University of Salfordbuslane begins
Salford Cathedral
Salford Central station Mainline rail interchangebuslane ends
Manchester Bridge Street
Manchester John Dalton Street
Manchester Princess Street (2017) Tram interchangebuslane begins
Manchester Oxford Road station (2017) Mainline rail interchangebuslane ends
Manchester Metropolitan University(2017) – buslane begins
University of Manchester(2017)
Central Manchester Hospitals (2017) Bus interchangebuslane ends

The BRT route begins at Leigh bus station, and joins the guided section at East Bond Street. It proceeds through Leigh and along the converted rail alignment via Tyldesley to Newearth Road in Ellenbrook. An improved bus route from Atherton joins the route at Astley Street, Tyldesley. From Ellenbrook the route continues via bus lanes alongside the A580 East Lancashire Road, serving Worsley and Swinton before joining the A6 at Irlams o' th' Height. It passes Salford University/Salford Crescent railway station before continuing through Manchester city centre and will pass along bus-only lanes on Oxford Road to Manchester University and Central Manchester Hospitals.[15]

The guided section has stops at East Bond Street, Holden Road in Leigh and Cooling Lane between Higher Folds and Squires Lane in Tyldesley, Astley Street, Hough Lane and Sale Lane in Tyldesley and Newearth Road in Ellenbrook. The multi-user path for walkers, horse riders and cyclists alongside the guided section provides access for emergency vehicles and maintenance.[16] For cyclists the path from Tyldesley to Ellenbrook is part of the National Cycle Network Route 55.[17]

The route from Leigh to Central Manchester Hospitals has 29 stops and the connecting route from Tyldesley to Atherton has five. On Monday to Saturday at least eight buses per hour operate in each direction on the guided section, four on the Leigh to Tyldesley section and four more from Atherton joining the Tyldesley to Ellenbrook section.[18] Park and ride facilities are provided at East Bond Street, Astley Street and where the A580 road passes under the M60 motorway carriageway.[19]

First Greater Manchester runs the service, branded Vantage.[20] Service V1 operates from Leigh and V2 from Atherton.[21] Timetabled journey times are less than 50 minutes from Leigh and Atherton to Manchester city centre, and will be less than 60 minutes to Central Manchester Hospitals.[22] Services run through Manchester to a temporary terminus at Stevenson Square until roadworks are completed in 2017, when they will terminate at Central Manchester Hospitals. The earliest weekday departures from Leigh/Atherton are at 04:00/04:30 respectively; and last trips from Manchester are at 24:00/23:45.[23]

Three conventional buses per hour operated by Stagecoach Manchester, services X34 and 34 between Leigh and Manchester via Astley, join the A580 east of Boothstown.[24] All stops along the A580 bus lanes are bus bays so that conventional stopping services can be overtaken by the limited-stop expresses. The Vantage services, new service 35 and re-routed X39 peak period service replace First's 12/25, X34, 39 Night Bus and 26 journeys.[25]


Vantage bus in Manchester city centre

Services are operated by 20 Wright Eclipse Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5LH hybrid double-decker buses. They are equipped with CCTV and next stop audio and visual announcements, USB charging points and free Wi-Fi. The purple-liveried buses have aubergine and grey e-leather seating.[8]

Stops, signalling and ticketing[edit]

Stops along the guided busway section provide level-boarding from platforms and are equipped with passenger information display screens. The guided busway crosses local roads on level, light-controlled junctions at which busway services have priority.[26] Tickets are sold by the bus drivers and all First Group ticket products apply to Vantage services,[27] including multi-buy phone tickets and TfGM cross-user System One tickets[28] and travelcards.


  1. ^ Busway – Route, Transport for Greater Manchester, retrieved 7 August 2013 
  2. ^ Leigh Salford Manchester Busway Project (PDF), brtuk.org, retrieved 7 August 2013 
  3. ^ Gomm, Brian (19 August 2009), "Busway 'off the rails'", Leigh Journal, Newsquest Media Group, retrieved 7 August 2013 
  4. ^ "Salford Councillor says Busway will Cause Nothing But Chaos". Manchester Gazette. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Get set for four months of jams on East Lancs Road as busway work begins". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Vaughan, Nick, The Leigh-Salford_Manchester Busway Project (PDF), retrieved 25 September 2016 
  7. ^ Cox, Charlotte (4 April 2016), "Five things transport bosses are saying to defend Leigh-Manchester guided busway", Manchester Evening News, Menmedia, retrieved 5 April 2016 
  8. ^ a b c Busway begins, Bus & Coach Buyer, 5 April 2016, retrieved 6 April 2016 
  9. ^ Leigh Busway Inspector's Report (pdf), Transport for Greater Manchester, retrieved 6 April 2016 
  10. ^ The Greater Manchester (Leigh Busway) Order 2005 (pdf), Legislation.gov.uk, retrieved 6 April 2016 
  11. ^ Construction work, Transport for Greater Manchester, retrieved 7 August 2013 
  12. ^ Work starts on Greater Manchester’s first guided busway, Transport for Greater Manchester, retrieved 18 September 2013 
  13. ^ Bus Priority Update, Transport for Greater Manchester, retrieved 29 June 2015 
  14. ^ TfGM http://www.tfgm.com/buspriority/Pages/website/pdfs/Letter-110116.pdf
  15. ^ Bus Priority Package (PDF), Transport for Greater Manchester, retrieved 13 January 2016 
  16. ^ Busway path completed, Leigh Journal, retrieved 19 May 2016 
  17. ^ Route 55 Map Sustrans, Sustrans, retrieved 19 May 2016 
  18. ^ Improving bus connections between Leigh, Salford and Manchester (pdf), Transport for Greater Manchester, 3 December 2011, retrieved 31 October 2015 
  19. ^ Manchester Confidential http://www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/News/New-Park-and-Ride-For-East-Lancs
  20. ^ Guided busway service unveiled, Leigh Journal, 20 January 2016, retrieved 5 April 2016 
  21. ^ V1 V2 (pdf), Transport for Greater Manchester, retrieved 6 April 2016 
  22. ^ TfGM Bus Priority News Autumn / Winter 2014 (pdf), Transport for Greater Manchester, retrieved 1 November 2015 
  23. ^ Timetable, First Greater Manchester, retrieved 6 April 2016 
  24. ^ Stagecoach Manchester launch new bus service 
  25. ^ Four bus routes to change from April 
  26. ^ "Positive reviews following "teething problems" for new guided busway", Leigh Journal, Newsquest Media Group, 7 April 2016, retrieved 7 April 2016 
  27. ^ Vantage, First Greater Manchester, retrieved 6 April 2016 
  28. ^ System one travel, systemonetravelcards.co.uk, retrieved 6 April 2016 

External links[edit]