Political leaders in Greater Manchester are calling on government in Westminster to back the early delivery of plans for bus franchising and public transport reforms.
The city-region is asking for £1.4 billion in initial funding to invest in delivering a greener transport system, with the integration of bus, tram, walking, cycling and rail connections. The Bee Network will provide seamless connections between active travel and public transport, and deliver a single ticketing scheme for Metrolink trams and bus services as plans to implement London-style bus franchising get underway.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority say funding is critical to ensure public transport is an attractive alternative to car use. Plans to help change how people get around the city-region form part of Greater Manchester’s ambitious plans to become carbon neutral by 2038, reports Marketing Stockport.
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.
“A single 20-minute bus journey between Middleton and central Manchester can cost £4.50 – compared to the £1.55 hopper fare in London. Around one third of our residents do not have access to a car. Those that do, drive a lot due to a lack of better alternatives. Half of all trips in our city region are less than two kilometres, and, shockingly, four in 10 of those trips are currently made by car. These habits are stagnating our economy, polluting our air and holding us back from realising our potential.
“A single, London-style, integrated transport network that is accessible, affordable and reliable will unlock Greater Manchester’s economy. 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.”
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.”