Greater Manchester’s plea to government to back early delivery of London-style public transport system

Andy Burnham rides one of the city’s new hire bicycles with Chris Boardman
X The Business Desk

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GREATER Manchester’s leaders have urged the government to bring forward the delivery of a London-style public transport system for the city-region.

As part of the vision, which requires an initial £1.4bn of funding from national government, Greater Manchester will deliver significant investment in transport facilities.

This will be integral to the infrastructure required to create the Bee Network –  a fully integrated transport system, including the roll-out of the ‘UK’s largest’ cycling and walking network, fast orbital bus routes and new and improved stations.

The news marks an important step in Destination: Bee Network– the city region’s masterplan to deliver a London-style, integrated transport system across bus, tram, cycling, walking and rail and help Greater Manchester to achieve its ambition to become carbon neutral by 2038.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Transport is central to our ambitions for a levelled-up Greater Manchester.

“Improving access to economic opportunity, unlocking new sites for residential and commercial development, promoting improved health and wellbeing through active travel, and making a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of the city region’s economy.

“We know that transport sits at the beating heart of all city-regions and the fact is that ours is just not fit for purpose.

“There is a huge mismatch between our ambition for Greater Manchester to be one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and get old and the reality, which is a fragmented, expensive and frustrating transport system.”

Mr Burnham said currently a single 20-minute bus journey between Middleton and central Manchester can cost £4.50 – compared to the £1.55 hopper fare in London.

“A single, London-style, integrated transport network that is accessible, affordable and reliable will unlock Greater Manchester’s economy,” he said.

“It will significantly improve air quality and it will help us to level up our communities.  Delivering the Bee Network is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we are demonstrating our commitment by putting forward millions of pounds in local contributions.

“We are asking government to give us the money and powers we need to get the job done as quickly as possible. Our people deserve much better and this is the first phase of our plan to give them a world-class transport network.”

Phase one of delivering the Bee Network will include;

  • Deliver a single, integrated and more affordable ticketing system for bus, Metrolink and cycle hire by 2024, and to include rail by 2030
  • Deliver minimum licensing standards for taxis and private hire vehicles across GM, covering safety, vehicle quality and livery
  • Improve access to and deliver new railway stations, including a new station at Golborne and step free access at stations in Salford, Wigan, Tameside and Manchester
  • Build 50 km of quality bus corridors across GM, improving reliability (especially on current poor orbital connections between our towns)
  • Deliver significant improvements in the bus fleet, replacing 30-50% of the fleet with zero emissions vehicles by 2025 and ensuring a high-quality and consistent offer (with common branding, standards of service and information)
  • Create high-quality walking and cycling routes (that are fit for a 12-year-old, a double buggy or a wheelchair user), including through innovative new road layouts like our CYCLOPS junctions
  • Do the development work needed to deliver the next wave of Metrolink expansions, with pipeline proposals to extend to Heywood and Middleton, Stockport, and Manchester Airport Terminal 2
  • Transport Commissioner, Chris Boardman, added: “London has benefitted from amazing public transport for decades; now it’s Greater Manchester’s time.

“For one sixth of the cost of Crossrail, we will deliver phase one of our Bee Network plans by 2026 and make public transport a much cheaper, easier and more attractive alternative to the car.

“It’s not being melodramatic to say that our future prosperity depends on these plans.

“Happily, our public transport ambitions mirror those of national government and the levelling up agenda so we’re confident that the vision we’re putting forward for government funding will be successful.

“These are very exciting times for Greater Manchester and we stand ready to put this vision into action.”