£240m plan is hop­ing to put an end to con­ges­tion

Glossop Advertiser - - News - Beth Ab­bit and Paul Britton

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

Andy Burn­ham

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