Rochdale cllrs (left) with Paul Townley (First Bus) and Stephen Rhodes (TfGM)

First Bus gets phase two of Bee Network underway right on time

434 Middleton-Rochdale at 05:04am is first service to begin operating

First Bus got services in phase two of the Bee Network in Manchester underway right on time yesterday (Sunday 24 March) as the 434 Middleton-Rochdale service left Middleton bus station at 05:04am.

There to see the bus head out were Zoe Hands, Managing Director of First Bus in Manchester, Mike Watson, Mobilisation Director and Paul Townley, General Manager of the operator’s Rochdale business. They were joined by Stephen Rhodes, Director of Bus at Transport for Greater Manchester and Rochdale councillors.

Paul said: “It’s been a brilliant team effort today and a proud moment as we begin operating services for the Bee Network in Rochdale and Bury.

“This is an exciting time to be involved from the start in a fresh challenge as the way bus services operate in Greater Manchester continues to change.

“First Bus will make its mark in the Bee Network as our team delivers excellent bus services in Rochdale and the wider community.”

First Bus is operating more than 30 routes in the Rochdale and Bury area together with six school services using a fleet of over 60 buses and capacity to expand this to 90 vehicles.


Notes to editors

Media enquiries to Richard Harrison, PR Manager, First Bus North & West Yorkshire 07973 668116  

About First Bus 

At First Bus, we are on a mission to grow bus usage. We will get behind initiatives that move people out of cars and onto bus.  

We are one of the UK’s largest bus operators, delivering over a million passenger journeys every day for the communities we serve.  

Transforming our business for the better, we are putting our people and customers at the heart of all we do.  

We are all about making journeys easier for our customers, which is why we were the first national bus operator to rollout Tap On, Tap Off payment technology across our entire UK fleet of 4500 buses. Our First Bus app has also been voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators.  

First Bus is committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. By March 2024, 15% of our will fleet will comprise Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs).  

We are passionate about giving back to the communities we serve, which is why we are helping local businesses to progress their own decarbonisation journeys with access to our charging hubs while our buses are on the road. 

We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland, Specialist Passenger Solutions, First Travel Solutions and Ensignbus.  

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.    Find more information on First Bus here: