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More than £500k spent on painting buses yellow for Bee Network rebrand

More than £500,000 has been spent painting buses yellow for the Bee Network rebrand, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

When the Bee Network was launched by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham last year, we said ‘yellow’ to new brightly coloured buses to honour the Manchester bee symbol. Following the second phase launch of the ‘London style’ integrated transport network in March, yellow buses can now be seen buzzing almost all the GM boroughs.

That yellow rebrand has come at a cost of £558,408, according to the FOI submitted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

This cost covered the materials and contractor fees for painting 93 buses yellow, including the Bee Network branding. This works out as between £6,000 and £7,000 per bus, which is industry standard, a TfGM spokesperson said.

The FOI also revealed that one tram was “wrapped” in advertising vinyl promoting the launch of the Bee Network, at an approximate cost of £20,000.

The FOI response from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), added that the branding of the GM Cycle Hire service was a contractual requirement of the procurement and not an additional cost. The bikes recently had vinyl branding applied as part of the Starling Bank sponsorship, with no net cost to TfGM.

Any other bus rebranding costs have been covered by revenues generated through franchise operations, rather than as a cost to the taxpayer, according to TfGM.

Fran Wilkinson, customer and growth director at TfGM, said: “Customer experience is at the heart of the Bee Network and in the early stages of development of the branding, our customers were very clear that the mass of operator logos and brands made travelling on public transport in Greater Manchester confusing and difficult to navigate.

“The Bee Network as a simple, consistent, singular brand removes that confusion and makes it easier for people to understand how to get onto the network, how to use it, what ticket to buy and increases the chances of them using public transport.

“Our forecasts also showed that branding buses would pay for itself in less than two years and since the introduction of Bee Network franchised buses last September, we have already seen an increase in bus patronage, so we know our approach is working.”

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