London-style ticket zones for Metrolink
METROLINK bosses plan to bring in four London-style fare zones from next year in a move designed to simplify the cost of tickets – but we don’t yet know what the new prices will be.
A report going before the council on Friday reveals a consultation on the zones – which are designed in concentric circles, with the city centre marked as’ Zone 1’ – is due in the next few weeks.
There are currently more than 8,500 possible price combinations across the network, a legacy of Metrolink’s gradual expansion over the years. It will be cut to just ten.
While the report does not say what fares will be charged under the new system, it does say the overhaul is likely to make longer cross-city journeys – such as from the airport to Bury – cheaper. Single, short journeys in the city centre would become more expensive for anyone without a concessionary pass.
However the report says that overall, the move will broadly set fares at the ‘lowest current’ ticket prices, which currently vary wildly depending on the line.
The plan would see Manchester city centre and Cornbrook marked as ‘Zone 1’ and a second ring - reaching out to Edge Lane in the east, Bowker Vale and Newton Heath in the north, Eccles and Stretford in the west and St Werbergh’s Road and Barlow Moor Road in the south – as ‘Zone 2’.
Beyond that, a third zone takes in the remainder of the Ashton and Didsbury lines, the Bury line as far as Besses o’th’ Barn, the Oldham line as far as Derker, the Altrincham line to Brooklands and the airport line to Martinscroft.
Everything further out than that – including the airport, Bury, Rochdale and Altrincham town centres – would be ‘Zone 4’.
The report is unclear on the exact pricing structure, but does say in the city centre, short journeys will become more expensive.
“The proposal harmonises the lowest fares currently payable on Metrolink, available for ‘one stop’ journeys and journeys within the ‘City Zone’, with other short ‘single zone’ journeys,” it says.
The move, due to be introduced in early 2019, goes hand-in-hand with the introduction of contactless payments – due to start this summer – and daily fare caps, which will be based on the zones.
Described as a ‘simpler, easier to understand fare structure’, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) says it will slash the 8,556 different varying fares on the network to just ten.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: “The fares and ticketing system in Greater Manchester is too complex, too disjointed and in need of overhaul.
“I speak to a lot of people who ask me ‘why can’t we have a system like London?’
“It’s a fair question, as anyone who’s travelled there knows just how ahead they are when it comes to fares and ticketing.”
It is understood TfGM plans to release indicative fare structures when it puts the proposal out to consultation.
●● Proposed new tram fare zones, released by TfGM