Free buses will run until midnight in Manchester city centre in a shake-up of public transport aimed at making late-night travel ‘safer’.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will introduce new and extended bus routes, including an evening-only service, from October 27.

Passengers can currently take a free bus from Piccadilly train station using two routes covering destinations across the city centre from Monday to Saturday.

But changes were sought by TfGM after customers found the 10pm finish was too early for those leaving major events, shows and bars late in the evening.

All three routes will continue to run from Piccadilly every 10 minutes, and every 12 minutes on weekends.

Sacha Lord, the city’s night-time economy adviser, said: “Since taking up the role, it has become very apparent that a solid transport system is key.

“With the above in mind, I am delighted to support the decision to extend the Manchester city centre Free Bus until midnight.

“Not only will this help the economy and help increase tourism, but it could also make the city centre safer for employees to travel.”

Here is a breakdown of the new-look service:

Route 1

The Salford Central extension which once formed part of Route 2 will move to Route 1 to allow those interchanging at Salford to visit shopping districts like Spinningfields.

A formal diversion will be created around Spinningfields, via Gartside Street, to avoid parked cars and heavy goods vehicles along Byrom Street and Hardman Street. 

A diversion around Mount Street and Albert Square will also be included amid plans to pedestrianise the historic plaza.

Visitor demand will see the route extended to the Museum of Science and Industry and Castlefield on weekends.

The evening service, which was ‘under utilised’, will be removed.

Route 2

Evening hours will be extended until midnight to provide links to interchanges via nightlife hotspots

The service will now operate in reverse, running anticlockwise around the city centre, allowing for the reintroduction of morning trips from Victoria to Spinningfields

A change to the route at Peter Street will allow for links to Manchester Central to be maintained following the Route 1 diversion from Mount Street

Route 3

A replacement for the Route 1 evening service, the new evening-only route will use the existing Route 2’s clockwise route and will run until midnight

Links will be provided to transport interchanges from popular areas such as Deansgate Locks and Home

The proposals were signed off by the Greater Manchester Transport Committee on September 13.

Councillor Mark Aldred, chair of the committee, said: “The free bus is an excellent service that connects many of Manchester’s most popular visitor attractions, so being able to run buses until midnight is a major boost for those enjoying all the city has to offer at night.”

“In making these changes we’ve listened to feedback from our customers, so I’m hopeful this will encourage even more people to give bus or public transport in general a go – helping us to tackle congestion and air pollution in the city centre.”

The free bus service replaced the Manchester Metroshuttle in October 2018, and has been operated by Go North West since June this year. A committee report revealed that the number of free bus passengers dropped by nearly 16 per cent in the last year, continuing a declining trend in numbers.