A leading London bus operator was looking to explore the prospect of expanding its bus operations into other UK cities. To do this, it wanted to understand the impact of the proposed franchise system in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). There was already media pressure from a coalition of existing Manchester bus operators under the umbrella One Bus organisation, and the threat of potential legal action, for the GMCA to maintain the city’s current partnership model.
We advised the bus operator to use opinion polling to ascertain what the people of Greater Manchester want from their bus services, and how their priorities were aligned or misaligned with a franchise model. This was to cross-check existing polling from the One Bus campaign, and add a new dimension to the public debate among many local stakeholders on whether bus franchising is the best way to provide greater accountability over transport services. We analysed the results and developed the narrative around how it told a compelling story to support reform of bus services for the Greater Manchester region. We created a target media list and shared the results with key stakeholders ahead of the media launch.
We placed op-eds in leading, target trade publications, and secured significant coverage of the research in both local and trade media. The coverage, which included endorsement from key third party organisations, provided a springboard for the bus operator to strengthen its ties with regional stakeholders and ensure it was part of future conversations regarding Manchester’s potential move towards a franchising model.