£240m plan is hoping to put an end to congestion
DETAILS of the biggest public transport investment in Greater Manchester in years have been revealed.
It is hoped the £240m plan will tackle congestion across the region – and get more people cycling, walking and using the Metrolink.
Up to 27 new trams could be added in the next two years.
A six-minute service could be introduced on more lines – and more double trams will be put on to deal with jampacked rush-hour carriages.
Discounts for early bird commuters could also be introduced.
Priority could be given to cars with three or more passengers on some of the region’s busiest roads to encourage car sharing.
A massive scheme to improve junctions, tackle bottlenecks, build new roads and roll out ‘smart’ traffic signals is also planned.
And there will be a huge push to get more people cycling and walking, with more bike lanes and better ways for people to get around on foot.
It is all part of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s ‘Congestion Deal’. The plan includes: l £80m to fund 27 new Metrolink trams, equating to 4,800 extra spaces – an overall capacity increase of 25 per cent
l £160m investment in cycling and walking infrastructures – the biggest ever investment in those areas in the region
l A £400m programme of schemes to upgrade junctions, tackle bottlenecks, provide new roads and deliver new smart traffic signals
l A ‘ high occupancy vehicle’ lane pilot. Priority on busy roads would be given to cars with three or more passengers to encourage car sharing
l An early bird ‘prepeak’ Metrolink ticket offer for people who travel into work early
l Group travel discounts for businesses that agree to implement flexible or home working for employees
l An expanded transport control centre operating 24 hours a day – and a dedicated ‘corridor management team’ for some of the busiest routes in Greater Manchester
Mr Burnham has developed the plan with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) bosses and independent experts.
It will tie in with the region’s ‘Clean Air Plan’ and will include measures to tackle the most polluted roads.
Manchester is the second most congested city in the country, according to traffic data company INRIX.
Too many people travel at the same time; too many people take short journeys by car, roadworks slow things down too often, traffic lights are often poorly timed, and people have no realistic alternatives to driving – according to the results of an online survey.
TfGM chiefs say that 75 per cent of car and van journeys in the morning peak carry just one person.
Almost a third of all journeys less than 1km are made by car.
Every second, 60 car journeys start in Greater Manchester between 8am and 9am – and the region’s busiest roads are twice as busy during peak periods.
Mr Burnham asked the public to do its bit to tackle congestion, in what he called a ‘deal’ with commuters. The money is coming from the Transforming Cities Fund, announced by the government last November.
All regions with a city mayor were told they would get cash.
Greater Manchester has now been told what the money can be spent on. Exact details are still being worked out. The plans were on the agenda for the region’s combined authority last week.
The investment covers ‘walking infrastructure’. Mr Burnham said that could mean road lay-out changes, pavement alterations and new design strategies to boost pedestrian safety.
“Congestion is a serious problem in Greater Manchester, which affects people’s health and wellbeing, as well as access to employment and education opportunities,” Mr Burnham said.
“Every week, my Twitter feed and inbox are filled with accounts of the difficulties people experience in travelling to work, dropping the kids off at school or getting to appointments on time.
“There’s no quick fix or single solution to tackling congestion and it requires a long-term approach, but there are things we could be doing better.”
The mayor is asking the ●● residents to play their part by choosing public transport, cycling or walking where possible.
He also wants transport bodies and businesses to work together to offer ‘real choice’ for travellers.
“If everyone does their bit, from businesses to bus operators and from council to commuters, we can work together to reduce congestion and make Greater Manchester an even better place to live and work in the future,” Mr Burnham added.
Ex-Olympian Chris Boardman, the region’s cycling and walking Tsar, would get a budget of £50m a year from 2019/20 for three years to create a ‘world class’ cycling infrastructure for Greater Manchester, the mayor said.
One idea is safe cycling routes to schools.
“We aren’t just going to ‘build infrastructure’,” Mr Boardman said. “We are going to build space people want to be in.
“Travel can be an enjoyable part of the day. We have forgotten that.”
Traffic on the M66 going south