L-R – First Manchester Operations Director, Adrian Worsfold, TfGM Interim Head of Bus Services, Alison Chew, GM Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, TfGM Committee Chair, Councillor Mark Aldred, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia. Credit; Chris Bull for TfGM

Transport for Greater Manchester’s popular Metroshuttle bus service is being overhauled this weekend, and it’s good news for Salford residents.

For the first time, one of the two routes in the renamed ‘Free Bus’ service will stop off at Salford Central train station, extending the reach of the buses to five of the stations in the Manchester area.

There is a catch, and that is the route will only go to Salford Central at ‘peak times’, so at 6.30- 9.10 in the morning, and 4- 6.30 in the evening on weekdays only.

A closer look at the re-designed ‘Free Bus’ that you can see around Salford and Manchester from Sunday. Photo credit: Chris Bull for TfGM.

First come, First served

The buses are being run by First after they were awarded a three year contract following a ‘competitive procurement process’, according to a statement by TfGM.

The new look buses start rolling this Sunday (the 28th).

Councillor Mark Aldred, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “Free bus provides an excellent high-quality, free bus service that links key public transport locations with shops and leisure destinations across the city-centre.

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“It provides a brilliant option for people to travel the last stage of their journey for free if they have used trains, trams or buses to get into the city centre – or simply for people to get about between one part of town and another if they are out shopping or simply having fun.

Fewer routes, bigger reach

The whole service has been apparently streamlined, with a reduction from three to two routes and promises of later running times, up to 10pm from Monday to Saturday.

Before- the current Metroshuttle map being replaced this Sunday
After- the revised ‘Free Bus’ map including the extension to Salford Cental. Both images: TfGM.

Retained are the audio/visual announcements in the buses, a unique feature which has proved a hit with tourists and other people who are unfamiliar with the area, as a way of finding their way around the city.

Greater Manchester Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, said:

“It will now be much easier to move around as part of an evening out, whether that’s connecting existing transport links, like getting the train to Salford Central and then the free bus to the Northern Quarter, or going from a restaurant on Deansgate to an event at the Manchester Arena.”

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If successful, this could pave the way for further free bus travel, which has been shown to work in other European cities.

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