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What are Service Permits?

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), on behalf of the Mayor of Greater Manchester and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), is changing the way buses are run in Greater Manchester. Instead of the current ‘deregulated’ system, where local services are provided commercially by bus operators who decide which routes and timetables to provide, between September 2023 and January 2025 most buses services in Greater Manchester will start to be run under a system called bus franchising. Under franchising, TfGM on behalf of the GMCA will commission bus services and coordinate the bus network in Greater Manchester.

A small number of existing bus services in Greater Manchester (mostly cross boundary services that run into and out of neighbouring local authority areas) will not form part of the franchised services. Once bus franchising goes live, any current or proposed local bus services that are not part of the franchised network (or are otherwise exempted) will require a Service Permit if they are to operate within Greater Manchester.

A franchising authority must grant a bus operator a Service Permit if they are satisfied that the operator’s proposed service meets the following statutory tests:  

  • the proposed service will benefit persons making journeys on local services in the area to which the franchising scheme relates; and
  • the proposed service will not have an adverse effect on any local service that is provided under a local service (franchised) contract in the area to which the franchising scheme relates.
  • However, they must not grant a permit if these requirements are not met.
    Franchising authorities are able to attach conditions to service permits, which operators must comply with.

Making a Service Permit Application

You can read our Service Permit policy statement to find out more about the scheme and application process. Read the document here.

To find out more about the conditions/descriptions of conditions that may be attached to a Service Permit, please read the Service Permit Conditions and Descriptions of Conditions Notice. Click here to read the document.

To make an application, download the Service Permit application form.

For Tram and Rail replacement services, please download this Service Permit application form.

Email your completed application form to

For any queries, please email

Outcome of Service Permit Consultation

Prior to establishing the Service Permit Scheme, legislation required that two consultations were carried out to seek views on:

i) the proposed Service Permit process
ii) the proposed conditions/descriptions of conditions that the franchising authority may attach to a service permit

The consultations were carried out in March 2023 and subsequently a report was produced and submitted to the Mayor of Greater Manchester. The report can be accessed here.

The Mayor made a decision on 24th May 2023 to allow TfGM to operate the administration of the service permit scheme and conditions regime.

The Mayoral decision can be accessed here.

All background papers and associated reports can be accessed here.